Book Review: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past.

Heya,

One of the things I enjoyed while listening to this book is the narrator. I loved her voice, her inflections, the way she did mama Vignes’ voice, and the emotions felt from her throughout. This is one of the greatest things about audiobooks. You can get into the world of the characters as if they are real. Love it!

It seems weird that I – someone who can not pass for white – found myself relating to Stella V more than her sister. Someone who started over, created new opportunities for herself, recreated who they knew themselves to be, dropped all of her family and moved on with her life (although, I held on to the last few toxic tethers for years before I finally knew what was good for me), and finally struggled with the guilt of it all. I felt that fear she had when she had been passing for white for so many years and the mere presence of a black couple (moving into her all-white community) threatened to reveal her secret. She’s just as strong a character as her twin who is dealing with an abusive partner and single mom life, and her mother whose husband was killed by a white man for no reason.

The Vanishing Half hits so many marks for me. So much so, you want to take a pen to it (or a handy notebook) and point out all the parts that you’ve been through, or know someone who’s been through, and write a long journal entry about how it’s affected your life. Oh, that was just me? Sorry.

I never understood true colorism until I was a teen. Before I had dealt with racism from other foster kids (white) and the white kids at the private school I went to but I didn’t realize it could come FOR me from my OWN people. The Vanishing Half dives deeply into the importance put on skin complexion – not just ‘color’ – in society and among family relations. There’s this part in the book when one sister returns home and everyone is wondering who that ‘dark’ girl is (her daughter) and it puts into perspective the ‘one drop’ rule. One drop of white – to black people – and you’re white. One drop of black – to white people – and you can’t EVER be white. Not even a little bit. You can’t put it on your bank documents, you can’t claim it at school, you can’t say you’re white to your white friends, and you can’t mark ‘White/Caucasian’ when getting a job.

Another interesting thing about the novel is the fact that it spans several generations. Often, I worry that there isn’t a chance to truly get to know our main characters if we make time jumps. Of course, there is no worry with Brit Bennett. The transition from one generation to the next is as smooth as butter. Not only do you see the issues of colorism from the white-passing Vignes twins but you also see it through the white daughter of one twin and the black (and dark-skinned) daughter of the other. You also get to see the world modernize, how things change in opinion about black people, and the job and educational opportunities afforded to them as time moved on.

I would definitely recommend this book, and not just to the black readers of the world. White people, and any POC, should glean the wealth of cultural knowledge between its pages. If I had to give this book a star rating I would give it 4.5 stars! If you’ve read this book please let me know in the comments! How did you feel about the points hit in this book? How do they relate to your own life?

P.S. If you have any books you’d love for me to read, please leave them in the comments!

Link to Book

Good Readdance,
Jade

Goodbye March 2020! 13 Books Read!

 

2020 Books Read So Far: 40/120

Heya,

Although, I was determined to keep writing as a priority, despite what’s going on with the world, I also wanted to make sure reading was as well. In March, I read 13 books. It helped me stay sane, reading did. I switched back and forth between physical, e-book, and audiobooks (thank gosh for Overdrive).

I was also able to mix genres. I loved romance and thriller and adventure and even the Spanish! I was really excited about The Wife Between Us. It really knocked me off my feet. I was looking forward to this one because it had been recommended to me by several people. I’m also a part of a few book groups on Facebook and it seemed quite popular.

Another book that I really enjoyed was Final Girls by Riley Sager. I actually listened to this one while driving to Louisiana (it took me almost 24 hours straight – just me and baby Naomi. Trying to find places to pump, stopping to take her out so she can stretch, trying to find food despite almost everything being closed, etc). It was unexpected for me because I had been listening to something lighter and then BAM, murder.

I also read Educated by Tara Westover. I really enjoyed this one. I found myself constantly rolling my eyes because of the bullshit other people tried to get the author to believe or say (feminist, “the lord says…”, and even the use of the n-word). Educated was a one of my nonfiction textbooks for Spring semester. I enjoyed this class, as well as the professor, and should’ve known it would be one of my favorites. I am also a nonfiction writer myself so I took notes of tone, pacing, and humor for my own stories.

Honestly, I believe that I also read a few more books than those listed here. Sometimes, I’m more excited to just open a new book than I am to write a blog post, post on social media, or mark it as ‘read’ on Goodreads. Luckily, e-books through Overdrive (and Kindle) can be automatically marked as ‘read’ on GR. Other forms are not so lucky and then there’s a ton of running around to figure out which books I completed, am still reading, or DNF (did/do not finish).

Don’t forget! If you have any suggestions let me know! I’d love to look into anything that you might be enjoying at the moment.

My favorite genres: thriller, mystery, romance, adventure/puzzles, fantasy/science fiction, nonfiction

Good Readdance,
Jade

 

Goodbye January 2020! 13 Books Read!

I’ve read 13 out of 120 books for 2020 so far!

Heya!

It is officially the second month of the new decade! How are you feeling? How was your January? Did you read any books that you loved in January? Did you create a Reading Goal for this year?

I have a goal of 120 books for the year 2020.

I wanted to keep my goal realistic as I have a tiny human, a small business, am a full time student while prepping my grad school applications, and I’m also focusing on my own writing. One goal that I made was to take time to read every day. That way no matter what life does to me I am still doing something I love consistently.

Curling up with a great book is almost always the answer!

I’ve split between audio books and physical books. Sometimes I have to do so many things around the apartment, or I’m commuting, and I can’t hold a book in my hand. I’m chasing Naomi, feeding Naomi, changing Naomi, doing homework or cooking, etc, etc, etc, etc, I could go on. Audio books and a pair of blue tooth headphones are essential for a new mom!

(As I type this Naomi has given up playing with her toys. She stood fussing at the side of my chair until I picked her up. So now I’m typing this one handed. Perfect example of when an audio book would be useful!)

us

This is a busy life!

January Books: 

I was able to get in books on minimalism and meditation, a handful of romance novels, a nonfiction graphic novel, science fiction, and paranormal romance!

Also!! This crazy thing happened. The other day I was tired of trying to find a book to read, going through my endless TBR, so I randomly chose an audio book on my way to school. I didn’t read the synopsis or anything. The cover intrigued me so I clicked “Borrow”. It was The Oxford Inheritance by A. A. McDonald. I looooved it. It was fantastic. I really enjoyed listening while the story unfolded.

Then today I was at the $1 Store and I saw the book in person! It was a complete and utter surprise and I knew I had to buy it. I know, I know. “How are you keeping up with minimalism if you keep buying things?” you might ask. I loved this book. It sparked joy for me. And that’s all the criteria I’m using before I buy something and bring it into my home.

oxford2

In total I’ve read 13 out of 120 books.

Good Readdance,
Jade

Book Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
 
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Dark Matter Blake Crouch

 

This was the second book Tony bought me at Barnes and Nobles. Several people recommended this book to me but I never got around to reading it. Then, we walked into BaN and I was like “OMG! I have to have it!” Alright, alright, it wasn’t so dramatic but that’s basically what happened.

It took me about a day and a half to read Dark Matter, mostly because I didn’t start reading until around 11:45pm. As I do. By 4am I knew I had to to go to bed; I just didn’t want to. It was so good, start to finish it blew me away.

As I picked it up from a recommendation, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into or what the book was about. I didn’t want to cause bias so I didn’t read the synopsis. Sometimes this sets me back, so I choose not to read them. Honestly, about halfway through I wanted to skip ahead. I just HAD to know what was happening, why it was happening and if it would all end out ok but I didn’t. It was so hard but I stopped myself.

If you need further convincing that you should be going to get this book RIGHT NOW; I didn’t even wait 2 minutes to tweet after finishing:

“Omg…I just finished .
Superb
Intriguing
Intense
Scientific but understandable
Mind bending
I don’t know if this is crazy but I legit almost cried at the end.

Easily best book I’ve read all 2018…” 

…that’s how great it was. After reading, I couldn’t stop thinking about what my life would be if…no, I can’t say anymore lest I spoil it for you. Thank you, Blake Crouch. Thank you so much for making me think, making me imagine, making me ask questions about the universe (or…multi… heh heh).

If you’ve read this book, liked it, disliked it, hated it or haven’t read it (or listened to it) yet but plan to…let me know in the comments! I’d seriously love to hear your thoughts. How did you like the book? Did you know what was going to happen? Could you predict the way it would go? Are you upset with the ending? Happy?

If you have any book suggestions or any reviews you’d like to see here, let me know!

Good Readdance,
Jade

 

Link to Book

Book Review: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

TheImmortalistDarkMatter

 

I’m so happy about this: So my guy took me to Barnes and Noble yesterday, December 20th, and I got; two books The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin and Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, a 3 pack of writing notebooks that I love because they are small enough to fit in my purse but are still a good size, and cozy reading socks!! Literally…they were labeled and tagged as cozy reading socks!

Cozy Reading Socks

Anyway, so I posted in a few of the book groups that I’m in and everyone raved about both books. I wasn’t sure which one recommended either of these to me but I was so excited when I hit the store. I decided to read The Immoralists first and I loved it.

It’s intriguing, heartbreaking, inspiring, and makes you think about your own life. Really, ask yourself the questions. If you could find out the EXACT day you were going to die…would you? And if you did, how would you live your life? Seeing the world and lives of 4 different siblings who experienced the same thing, had the same parents and grew up so unique really makes the story relatable.

I will admit, there are a few parts that I was uncomfortable with (sexually) but it didn’t pull me out of the story and my heart was already wrenching because I knew what was going to happen. I quickly turned pages because I just had to get to the end of that section. I really wanted to cry but I held in my tears. As I paged through the book I kept thinking I was going to put the book down (It was 3am for god’s sake!!) and I couldn’t. One chapter bled into the other and I just needed to know…I was not disappointed. Benjamin pulled me in and I’m very glad I chose to read this one first.

If you’ve read this book, liked it, disliked it, hated it or haven’t read it (or listened to it) yet but plan to…let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you have any book suggestions or any reviews you’d like to see here, let me know!

Good Readdance,

Jade

 

Link to Book

Book Review: The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

Three years ago Madison Culver went missing at the age of five while looking for a Christmas tree with her family. Private investigator Naomi Cottle continues the investigation and believes that Madison’s disappearance can only be the result of an abduction. Naomi’s personal journey from foster child to adulthood parallels her search for Madison, and as her fears and sources of determination come to light, the narrative also dips into Madison’s mind, allowing readers to experience her terrifying ordeal at the hands of her captor.

This was a book that I randomly picked up at the library and I’m so glad I did. I will not lie and say I don’t ‘judge books by their cover’ but I do. Most of us do. Usually, the title and cover draw me in and then the synopsis makes me take it home. That was the case with this one. I started reading it at 11:30pm, which any self respecting nerd knows they SHOULD NOT do. I finished it the same night. 3:40am and I closed the book with a sense of peace and completion.

I usually don’t like books that have any form of child abuse in them. I experienced abuse, neglect and other poisonous happenings as a kid and it’s not something I want to read about. I enjoy reading and often times, I am doing it because it makes me feel better. I also do it because I used it as a coping mechanism as a kid. It keeps me safe. It hides me until I’m ready to fight. Why read about something that I’ve been trying to escape my entire life…and all that jazz.

That being said, I had no idea this book would have any mention of that. Yes, I read the synopsis but I definitely thought this was going down a different path. I believe that the fact that I read it, that I continued to push forward, speaks for itself.

The Child Finder
The way Denfeld writes is so beautiful that I couldn’t put the book down. The way she spins each touch and each look as subtle metaphors, from the woods, will surprise you. At first, you will say, “Is she talking about…?”

I wanted to read more, wanted to see what happened to this small child. I wanted to find out if Naomi would find the child or if there would only be bones or worse…nothing at all? I asked myself if I was ok with it ending either way. I asked myself if Naomi could really do this without any super powers. If this was going to have some sort of paranormal or supernatural element. I wanted to know if she was the kid whisperer.

I wanted Madison to be found. I wanted her to be lost. I wanted to see how her parents grieved and, after all these years, how they coped. At 330am, I was coming upon the end of the book and I had to sit up. I had to prepare myself for the end. It was just amazing.

I would recommend this to any and everyone. Trust me, this one is worth reading. I will say, I also plan to look at other books by her. I love her writing style and I want to know more!

If you’ve read this book, liked it, disliked it, hated it or haven’t read it yet but plan to…let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you have any book suggestions or any reviews you’d like to see here, let me know!

Happy Readdance,

Jade

Link to Book

The Book That Made Me A Reader

Heya!

So I am beyond excited! I can’t even believe I’m writing this right now.

When I was a young  foster girl, sad and angry, I needed a coping mechanism to fill the void love loss left in me. I found that in The Westing Game. I was around seven years old when I first read it.

I had been looking for it for so long but could never remember the title or the author. All I could remember was that a ton of people are invited to a house as heirs to a large estate. There’s intrigue, mystery and crazy twists. A huge competition would pit them against each other until one lone person came out the winner…and single heir. Something to do with a guy named West…or something. I tried every form of google search but couldn’t come up with results that fit the book.

Then, a good friend of mine told me she was moving back to her home state. ‘Can you come over and help me pack?’ Of course! Then she added ‘and you can look through my books and take whatever you like!’ Umm…what? She had a ton of books from the 90’s. All those old covers and big pants. I loved it! We had the greatest time!

And then…I saw it. The instant she pulled it from the book I almost cried. My heart nearly exploded. The Westing Game!! That was the title! That was the book I read at least twice a month! That was the book that made me want to read any and everything I could get my hands on. All the old memories rushed through my mind and I grasp it to my chest.

I’d finally found it. It was finally mine.

I’m going to read it again. I don’t even care if it’s different than I remember. My inner child is jumping for joy and shivering with anticipation.

Dramatic, I know…this is me.

No google found photos here. This is the actual book on my bookshelf. Yes!

TheWestingGame

Good Readdance,
Jade

 

P.S. I picked up 50 books in total.

 

allthebooks

 

Link to Book

Book Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.

 

I believe that I read this book when I was a kid. I think it was apart of the required reading list but I’m not 100% sure. I remember hearing a lot about it. About censorship and how limiting our children can be bad for them. I wonder why that converse ever went out of style?

fahrenheit 451

I love this book with all of my heart. I decided to re-read it so that I could watch the movie, currently out with Michael B. Jordan, but I haven’t seen it yet. I didn’t remember much about the writing style so I went in pretty blind. I was not disappointed. I love the main character. His mind is all over the place and yet nowhere at all. The first time they mention him sitting there, in the dark all on his lonesome with that awkward evil grin I was taken away.

The characters come alive from the pages. You can hear the laughter in Clarisse’s voice, the odd monotony of Mildred and whispers of thought from Montag. My writing style is more conversational and so I really loved some of the choppy wording, the half sentences and the odd comma placements. I really enjoyed reading it again and even if I don’t see the movie any time soon, I will be happy.
If you’ve read this book, liked it, disliked it, hated it or haven’t read it (or listened to it) yet but plan to…let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you have any book suggestions or any reviews you’d like to see here, let me know!

 

Good Readance,
Jade

Link to Book

Book Review: The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

Ellen O’Farrell is a professional hypnotherapist who works out of the eccentric beachfront home she inherited from her grandparents. It’s a nice life, except for her tumultuous relationship history. She’s stoic about it, but at this point, Ellen wouldn’t mind a lasting one. When she meets Patrick, she’s optimistic. He’s attractive, single, employed, and best of all, he seems to like her back. Then comes that dreaded moment: He thinks they should have a talk.

Braced for the worst, Ellen is pleasantly surprised. It turns out that Patrick’s ex-girlfriend is stalking him. Ellen thinks, Actually, that’s kind of interesting. She’s dating someone worth stalking. She’s intrigued by the woman’s motives. In fact, she’d even love to meet her.

Ellen doesn’t know it, but she already has.

Alright, I admit it took me a really long time to read this book. Almost a month. Just as I was cracking the book open my college courses started. Always the one with her head in the clouds, I thought No, I won’t have any issue reading for entertainment while also trying to read class assignments. I was wrong. The Philosopher’s Way and Plato soon took over all of my free time. The only time I could find for personal reading was before work, during my lunch break and just before my eyes shut at night. That basically means I only read ten to fifteen pages at a time. My usual average is around fifty to ninety so this just makes me look sad. I didn’t want to stop though and took the book everywhere with me; to the doctors office, to work and to stand in line at Walmart.

Anyway, I really liked the book. Often times I caught myself wanting to tweet the author and say “Oh my god! They could totally be best friends!”. I loved the fact that you go back and forth between point of views. I didn’t like this sort of writing when I was younger but as I get older and hone my own writing style I appreciate the craftsmanship. The personality differences between Ellen and Saskia are so vast and you really get to see that. This way, you get the stalkers thoughts first hand and maybe, you don’t totally hate her.

the hypnotists love story

I would definitely recommend this book! If you are looking for an easy read that doesn’t have too many twists and turns this is for you! One part of the book I thought, there’s totally going to be some crazy plot twist that will have me on the edge of my seat and things turned out differently. No worries though, I did like the way the book ended. It was a pleasant story.

If you’ve read this book, if you liked it, disliked it, hated it or haven’t read it but plan to…let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you have any book suggestions for me to read or any reviews you’d like to see here, let me know!

Happy Readance,
Jade

Link to Book

Book Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: a white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it?

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary’s fate now lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But does anyone know the real Mary?

Although I was adopted, my parents still took in foster kids until after I graduated from high school, and still do today. In my opinion, you could akin our house to a group home. That, along with Mary’s feelings of abandonment, was one of the biggest things that made me actually interested in reading this book. I wanted to see if the writer would show the truth of the system or if it would sugar coat it and all the characters would be singing Kumbaya in the living room while wearing knee length dresses. It shocked me how raw the story was, how Mary really came alive and you could feel her emotions. It went into the issues of falsified evaluations and issues with desensitized social workers. Allegedly shows the true side of the majority of foster parents and their interactions with the downtrodden.

Allegedly by Tiffany D Jackson
I wasn’t prepared for how the story would really trigger me. After being unwanted, unloved and rejected I definitely understood her thoughts. After my own experiences with infant loss, the basis for the story squeezed my heart and then Mary’s fears for her own child and the outcome of it’s future, due to her circumstances, pushed me over. Halfway through the book I had to stop for a breather before I could pick it back up.

Having a strained relationship with my own biological mother, Mary’s love and hate for her mother twisted me in circles. The story goes into the deepest corners of a mother-daughter relationship that is based on lies and false hope. It’s relatable in a way that will make you cry or shake your head in frustration. It’ll make you wonder at the secrets you’ve kept and whether speaking on them would serve you or hurt others. I would definitely recommend this book. Black, white, old, young, anyone should pick it up. It’s a beautiful story about the consequences of life, of protecting the ones we love and also ourselves.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I saw this book in a facebook group for black women who like to read. I was on the fence about it. I believe this is actually one of the first books by a black author that I’ve read in years. I’m not a fan of books that are about thugs, violent baby daddies and angry absentee fathers. I’m will admit that this is what I was expecting when I first joined the group. No, not because I’m ‘prejudice’ against “my own people” but because I joined a group before and a lot of the books that were suggested were that type. I left because I didn’t want to be stifled and no one wanted to discuss anything that wasn’t The Coldest Winter Ever, a book that I took a quick dislike to as a child. So many of the women suggested the book and, after reading it, so many of them came back with shocked responses. I figured, if so many of them were that into it then why not? I’m definitely glad I picked it up!

If you’ve read this book, if you liked it, disliked it, hated it or haven’t read it but plan to…let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
If you have any book suggestions for me to read or any reviews you’d like to see here, let me know!

Good Readance,

Jade

Link to Book