May-August 2019: Wrap Up

I took a break from doing monthly wrap-ups because it was getting a bit draining, but in the last four months I have read some amazing books that I cannot shut up about. I wanted to highlight my standout reads from May-August! I managed to narrow down my selection down to 11 must reads! Here goes…

 

  1. Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Bennn

We meet Patsy, a twenty something Jamaican living in Pennyfield- what one would call a ghetto. Patsy is a government worker, but gets paid so little, she ends up doing some on the side work that is she not too proud about.  By all intents Patsy’s life is HARD. It just seems like she cannot catch a break. This all changes when Patsy receives the American visa she’s been applying for. Patsy, like most/some Jamaicans think going to America will change their lives for the better so she grabs the opportunity to leave the island. Reality hits hard for Patsy, an undocumented immigrant who finds herself doing things she would dream of doing if she was still in Jamaica.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Pasty. She is a character I don’t always read about and it was refreshing doing so. I liked how complex Patsy is as a character, Dennis-Benn wrote a believable character and that is what I loved most about the book. It is not everyday you read about motherhood like this and I felt it was explored in a truly authentic way. The themes explored in this book are not new, but I felt the author did a solid job of exploring each in a way I never thought of.

Overall, this is a truly a great addition to Caribbean literature

 

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  1. Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

That was the thing about lies: they demanded commitment. Once you lied, you had to stick to your story….

One of the most hyped books I saw on Bookstagram, so much so I took my time getting around to reading it and I am a bit said I did. Miracle Creek lived up to ALL the hype. A well written, addictive read, I could not put down the book until I found out exactly what happened. I liked that the book offers a little bit of everything from the mystery, to how thrilling the court room drama was, you will not be bored at all.

So many themes are discussed and the one I especially liked was how motherhood is portrayed, especially by Moms with children of special needs. Having a special-needs child didn’t just change you; it transmuted you, transported you to a parallel world with an altered gravitational axis. This was thoroughly explored in the novel.

Overall the book really showcases how we truly don’t know what a person is going through and how our small sometimes meaningless actions accounts for a bigger thing that impacts a lot lives.

One of my must reads for 2019.

 

  1. The Peepal Tree Book of Contemporary Caribbean Short Stories by Jeremy Poynting

If you want to start reading more Caribbean literature but you are not sure where to start The Peepal Tree Book of Contemporary Caribbean Short Stories is the place. This huge collection features over 30 stories from Writers across the Caribbean or from Caribbean heritage. These stories all represented the Caribbean in a realistic and authentic way and I think that is what I loved most about the collection. What I also loved and is happy to report, is that a third of this collection features female writers. These stories were all written in the 2000s so you are getting a more “contemporary ” look into Caribbean life.  I highly highly recommend you pick this book up and get to know some amazing Caribbean authors.

 

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  1. Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff

“According to studies, 92 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. But though 100 percent start, only 8 percent finish. Statistically you’ve got the same shot at getting into Juilliard to become a ballerina as you do at finishing your goals. Their acceptance rate is about 8 percent, tiny dancer. “

I cannot shut up about this book. As a “serial starter” this is the book I needed to get me to every finish line. What Jon Acuff does is get to the heart of WHY we don’t finish what we start. Why we don’t finish can be summed up in one word Perfection . According to Jon Acuff developing tolerance for imperfection is the key factor in turning chronic starters into consistent finishers. . This blew my mind, cause I have been letting perfection get in the way of me finishing goals. If I mess up, I decide I need to quit and start over… on a Monday of course….

If you have been having problems finishing, I Highly recommend you give this book a read. It offers practical ways for you to get over those finish lines.

 

  1. Recursion by Blake Crouch

I finished reading Recursion and my head feels like it is going to explode trying to keep up with this time hopping book. I am generally not a huge fan of the science fiction but having read Crouch’s previous novel Dark Matter I knew I was in for a great read and Recursion delivered.

A well thought out, intelligent read that you keep you interested for the entire ride.

 

  1. Atomic Habits An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

We all deal with setbacks but in the long run, the quality of our lives often depends on the quality of our habits.

This is a must read book for everyone! James Clear really gets to the heart of what it takes to build healthy habits and what it takes to get rid of the unhealthy ones. I think everyone could benefit from reading this book and putting into practice the advice given.

For me, I love how clear James Clear was in this book in the work that goes into forming healthy and getting rid of unhealthy habits. Clear offers practical advice on how to build these habits, in ways that aren’t overwhelming. I love how feasible his suggests were and I look forward to putting them into practice.

This is a solid read and I recommend this book to anyone who is struggling to put in place new healthy habits and get rid of unhealthy ones.  Please grab a copy and change your life.

 

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  1. Frying Plantains by Zalika Reid-Benta

Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta is a sizzling and wonderous debut novel that you will fly through and absolutely love- I promise you!

I sat down and read Frying Plantain in one sitting, it was utterly interesting and delightful. Frying Plantain is a collection of twelve interconnected stories that follows Kara Davis from elementary school to university.

What I loved about this book is how truly authentic the narrative feels. This is such a rich collection of interconnected stories. The characters are well formed, and you can relate to each of their story. I loved how Benta explored Grandmother-Mother-Daughter relationships- it was rich and fully formed- I could not get enough of it. We see three generation of women all trying to be the best version of themselves but culture is ever present and we see how they try to navigate that.  A truly amazing debut novel and I cannot wait to hear more from Zalika Reid-Benta.

 

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  1. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett did it again! The Dutch House was utterly divine and it will leave you with the biggest bookish hangover!

In The Dutch House we meet Cyril Conroy, who through the luck and some real estate knowledge came into great wealth. Through this new found wealth Cyril was able to purchase The Dutch House which was previously owned by a Dutch family who came to ruin. Cyril purchased this sprawling mansion in the countryside of Philadelphia as a surprise for his wife- this began the down fall of the Conroy family.

I am such a big fan of Ann Patchett’s writing from I read her first novel Bel Canto. Ann Patchett did an amazing job of showcasing sibling relationships, mother daughter-son relationships, sainthood and forgiveness. Reading this book will have you rooting for these siblings. The book goes between the present, the past and the in-between so seamlessly and this is a testimony to Patchett’s writing. There is this suspense that keeps building because of the unanswered questions- but everything comes together in the most organic and beautiful way.

If you love family drama this is your pick. If you are looking for a truly heart warming sibling relationship- this is it. If you are a fan of Ann Patchett- just know she delivers with The Dutch House.

 

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  1. Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat

I am such a fan of Edwidge Danitcat’s writing and she delivers with Everything Inside. This is a strong collection of stories filled with complex characters, all dealing with major issues, trying to navigate life with Haiti being sometimes at the center of each narrative.  I found myself being immersed in this collection and the lives of the people represented on the pages.

With eight stories in the collection, it is hard to zone in on one that truly floored me, because every single one of these stories were great. Danticat knows Haiti and I know when I pick up her book, I will be longing for a place I have never visited. The stories explore immigration, family life, relationships, poverty, courage and shame. These stories are explored in a such a real way and vulnerable way.

Truly an amazing collection of stories that will stick with you.

 

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  1. Red at the Bone by Jaqueline Woodson

I have no words to describe how great a writer Jacqueline Woodson is. Her writing genuinely takes my breathe away and I always in awe at how she uses words so sparingly but convey so much- witchcraft!

Red At The Bone opens with sixteen-year-old Melody’s coming of age ceremony.  The ceremony is somewhat the grounding point of the book. We hear from Melody’s Grandmother Sabe, about how her ceremony went, and all the major events that led to her being in 2001 watching her only granddaughter take part in a tradition she hold close to her heart. We hear from her Grandfather Po’Boy and his courtship with Sabe and what it felt like when Iris showed up 16 earlier to let him know about the pregnancy.

Woodson did a spectacular job of exploring themes such as education, class, ambition, motherhood and sexuality in just 196 pages.  A short but impactful read. I cannot stop singing praises about Jacqueline Woodson and her writing. WOW

 

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  1. The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull

Alien invasion happening on U.S. Virgin Island? SIGN ME UP!!!! The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull is unlike anything I have ever read before and I cannot stop talking about it and I didn’t want it to end.

Set on the U.S. Virgin Islands, we meet the members of the community of Charlotte Amalie-like most Islanders, they are pretty laid back, but all living complicated lives. Things get even more complicated when one day the sky opens up and an alien ship docks close to the island. Things spiral, quickly.

When I say I have never read a book like this, I mean it. Cadwell is able to traverse and blend various genres together, it is hard to classify exactly what genre this book falls under. I think that is what I loved most about it.  If you are looking for a book that will grab you from the very beginning and won’t let go until the end, this is it. If you have never read about an alien invasion happening on an island- well this might be the only book for you!

 

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Moving forward, I will be trying to do quarterly wrap-ups where I pick my top 10 favorite books from each quarter. If you are following me on Instagram, I do a monthly wrap-up scaled down wrap up, if you missed the last four months, see below!

 

MAY WRAP UP

 

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JUNE WRAP UP

 

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JULY WRAP UP

 

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AUGUST WRAP UP

 

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And… that’s a wrap!

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Oahu, Hawaii

The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull