Thea’s having a bad month. Not only has she been made redundant, she’s also discovered her husband of nearly twenty years is sleeping with one of her friends. And he’s not sorry – he’s leaving.
Bewildered and lost, Thea doesn’t know what to do. But, when she learns the great-uncle she barely knew has died and left her his huge collection of second-hand books and a house in the Scottish Lowlands, she seems to have been offered a second chance.
Running away to a little town where no one knows her seems like exactly what Thea needs. But when she meets the aristocratic Maltravers brothers – grumpy bookshop owner Edward and his estranged brother Charles, Lord Hollinshaw – her new life quickly becomes just as complicated as the life she was running from…
I stayed up all night just so I could finish this book. I really enjoyed it. I think it’s because I’m an avid reader that I really love books about bookstores. I loved the love interest, although felt like he was a bit emotionally immature for his age. That’s the other thing, I really enjoyed reading a book about a main character who isn’t 25 with a hot body, the best hair, and her whole life ahead of her to find love.
I also loved that time passes in the book and you can really see the character arcs. However, I felt like the time jumps weren’t strong enough. They seemed to be thrown in, and some of the true emotional growth is glazed over.
I would give this book 3.5 stars! I did really enjoy it and feel like the romance was just as great as the setting. How amazing would it be to go to Scotland and talk long walks, hang on the beach at the book’s Shed, and own such expensive and rare novels from Classics around the world?
At twelve years old, Azere promised her dying father she would marry a Nigerian man and preserve her culture, even after immigrating to Canada. Her mother has been vigilant about helping—well forcing—her to stay within the Nigerian dating pool ever since. But when another match-made-by-mom goes wrong, Azere ends up at a bar, enjoying the company and later sharing the bed of Rafael Castellano, a man who is tall, handsome, and…white.
When their one-night stand unexpectedly evolves into something serious, Azere is caught between her feelings for Rafael and the compulsive need to please her mother. Soon, Azere can’t help wondering if loving Rafael makes her any less of a Nigerian. Can she be with him without compromising her identity? The answer will either cause Azere to be audacious and fight for her happiness or continue as the compliant daughter.
First, I want to say how beautiful this cover is. I love the vibrant colors, the representation through skin tone and hairstyle, and the mirror image of the guy through the glasses. When I first saw it, I was immediately like I’m reading that!
Second, I stayed up all night just so I could read this book. Then I immediately fan-girled and wrote a Tweet to the author to tell her just how much I loved it. In Ties That Tether, you get to see parts of the Nigerian culture through words, phrases, and traditions in comparison to the character’s (and author’s) experience as an immigrant in Canada. You get to see the holds that family has over your life and how you might end up with someone you don’t love just because you want to please your parents.
I’m not Nigerian but I really related to this character. All my life my parents have stressed the importance of dating within my own race and how we’ve got to ‘stick together’. I dated a few white and light skins when I was younger and was immediately labeled the daughter who would Most Likely Go White. You should’ve seen their faces when they found out that Tony, my partner and (of course) soulmate, is black.
It also goes along with how you can’t judge someone by the culture they were raised in. It’s hard to tell who is racist, who is a pushover, and who is truly willing to stay and put up with your family because they love you – when you are only looking at their ethnic background. The struggle the main character goes through to listen to her heart or the generations of ancestors is visceral and shows on the page. It might make you agree to anything – as we see over and over.
That being said, I wanted to slap this main character up the head a few times (which I’m sure she might’ve gotten from a parental figure a few times). Girl, get it together! Might I also mention how important it is to show healthy girl-friend relationships!? Everyone needs someone in their corner (even me…I need friends, ahora) and I love how more and more these days you are seeing secondary characters who are more than just a device thrown in to further the plot. Also, I think I’d like to see a sequel with her best friend as a main character and finding love!
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I’m so glad that I read it. I felt like it was the first romance in a long time that didn’t make me roll my eyes or frustrate the hell out of me – which is saying a lot. Y’all know how I love my mushy stories.
If I had a star system, I’d give this book 4 stars! Thank you Jane Igharo for introducing us to the culture with an experience that is relatable and honest.
[Katie Vaz]’s newest book tells the story of her life through the thirty-nine plants that have played both leading and supporting roles, from her childhood to her wedding day.
I really thought the art in My Life in Plants was very adorable. I am a big lover of plants, as well as nonfiction shorts, so I thought this book blended to the two quite nicely. I did find that I wanted a bit more of each. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing, though. You want to be left wanting more from nonfiction stories – that is, if the author is still alive. Then you are interested in the rest of their story.
I also liked the fact that the illustrations felt more light hearted. When there are tough topics that blend with more mundane ones, it’s easy to go to the darker side. This was cutesy and sweet on every page, and at this time in 2020, we need that.
I have recently joined plant groups and I plan to post this on my planstagram page (Plants.That.Read) as well because I think it helps people understand how plants can affect your life. I think it has something to do with the healing aspect, the growth and cycle of life aspect, to plants. Either way, care for plants and heal your soul!
If I could give this my own rating I would give it a 3.5! Thank you for your stories Katie Vaz.
Don’t forget! If you have any book suggestions for me to read, feel free to comment below!
When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.
What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.
Read: August 2020
Heya, I’ll admit, I wasn’t impressed with the synopsis for The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware. I’ve been playing hide and seek with this novel for months. I usually use Overdrive for my audiobooks and I kept seeing that it was available for lending but I never requested it. I really enjoyed -in a dark, dark, wood – by the same author and I was partially afraid that nothing would live up to that novel. I even put it back on my TBR (To Be Read) pile so that I can read it again. It was that good. I also enjoyed The Death of Mrs. Westaway ( and heck, I might just have to write a cumulative review on this author one day because I’m sure I’ll read more novels by her). Lately, I’ve been struggling to find a novel that I wanted to read – that isn’t Stephen King, as I’ve been reading a ton of books by him this year. Stay tuned for a review set of his novels – and so I was like FINE!!!! I requested The Turn of the Key and started listening.
I will admit, again, it started slow for me. I had strapped on my bluetooth headphones before I left the house to go shopping and thumbed through the available audiobooks on my homescreen. I tried out two or three audiobooks but it wasn’t until I was standing in Dollar Tree, looking for candy, that I started TTotK. Then, as it began I rolled my eyes. Previous bias. Then I realized that the narrator is British (is the author British?) and I usually love that and so I decided to let it continue. I was pleasantly, VERY PLEASANTLY, surprised to discover that the book is amazing. The narrator and the low way she says “creak, creak, creak” and how the emotion of a scared nanny comes across through every chapter. I loved the way the story is told in second person, structured as a letter written to a solicitor. I enjoyed the way it unfolds, from in-scene-prose to reader, and back. I also thought that the way the ending is handled – no spoilers here – it was genius! I was about 20 minutes away from ending the novel and I was like OH NO! PLEASE TELL ME ____ HAPPENS! I had predicted what would happen early on, but not some aspects, and yet, I was happy with the way everything unfolded. So I’ll say, I easily enjoyed it. The pacing of the novel made me want to listen to it straight through, though it was 10 hours, and so I did. I think I took one small break in the middle to watch a recipe for dinner. Then I was back at it. It was more than emotion from the narrator and pacing. On a sentence level, with phrases and the genius of metaphors, Ware made me feel connected to this character who lived in a different place, narrated by a different culture.
If I had a rating system I would give this an amazing 3.5 out of 5 stars! Thank you, Ruth Ware, for yet another great story.
You knew a teenager like Charlie Crabtree. A dark imagination, a sinister smile–always on the outside of the group. Some part of you suspected he might be capable of doing something awful. Twenty-five years ago, Crabtree did just that, committing a murder so shocking that it’s attracted that strange kind of infamy that only exists on the darkest corners of the internet–and inspired more than one copycat.
Read: August 2020
Method: Audiobook and Physical (Mostly listened)
One of the great things about The Shadows by Alex North is that it was inspired by the Slender Man legend. I must admit that before I read this book I read a few articles interviewing the author as well as about the Slender Man. It’s a morbid curiosity as well as an interest in the role legends and myths play in society. It all made me giddy inside.
I listened to The Shadows in one day, willing to sacrifice sleep in order to keep listening. I loved the narrator, the way you could feel the emotion from the main characters and the mystery. I feel that narrators should really get the kudos they deserve because you truly believe that the person is the character. The inflections of Paul, the worries of Amanda, the spooky woods, all come through because of the phrasing and the tone of the narrators. So, bless them! That being said, I felt that this book was much slower than The Whisper Man (another book by Alex North that I read recently). I felt that I kept waiting for things to really take off. This anticipation wasn’t fulfilled until later in the book but it was worth the wait. I just wished that there was more of a sense of urgency earlier on. I also felt that I might’ve missed something, regarding the timeline of deaths, while listening. Due to this, I spent the last half of the book looking for answers that I never got. This makes me feel like I need to reread the book, or at least search for that answer via Goodreads or reviewers (because others might’ve had the same question).
I feel that even wanting to find those answers shows just how much I liked this book. The fact that despite this hiccup, I still want to learn more about the novel, as well as read more about Slender Man, says it all. I would definitely recommend The Shadows to anyone looking for a mystery. If I had a rating system, I would give this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars! Fantastic!
I spent the beginning of April in Louisiana. I was unable to listen to audio-books, due to the internet situation, and I rarely read physical books. I still think I did a fantastic job with the stories I read as I enjoyed most of them.
On the long trek back, 20 hours with a night spent in Gulf Shores for a break, I was able to listen to several books. It made the those long hours doable, helped me stay sane.
I loved Behind Closed Doors by P.A. Paris. I really enjoyed the main character, as well as the narrator’s voice. One of the beautiful things about audio books is the true skill of the narrators. I love how they can take on different accents, speed up or slow down their cadence for mystery or intrigue, how they make you feel the action of the story. I almost cried, a few times while listening to books, when a narrator choked up while giving a heartfelt piece of dialogue. It really shows you how important reading, books in general, are important to our lives.
Another book that I really liked was Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty. I actually started this book months and months ago. I began listening at the same time as a few others, it was overshadowed by others and so I stopped. So I picked it up on the second leg of my trip. I really enjoyed the way things turned out with it. I liked the many different characters and all of their intricacies. It really made me remember Clue and how much I loved that movie. So much so that I re-watched it!
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
Lately, I’ve been thinking about my favorites. If you follow my blog you’ll find that I read an array of genres. From Mystery to Thriller, from Romance to Yes…Erotica (and there is, indeed, a difference), from Science Fiction to Fantasy to Paranormal to NonFiction to Literary Fiction to sub genres and on and on. And so I thought about writing a collection of blogs chronicling my favorites from each genre.
Now, these aren’t my favorites FROM ALL TIME – as I’ve read too many books and enjoyed far too many of said books and I couldn’t rank these as the best honestly. These will be the ones most present in my mind. And currently sit on my shelves.
I hope you enjoy these lists! Don’t forget. Let me know if you’ve read any of these or have any others that you want to suggest!
Note: I’ve decided to keep this list at 5 for now as there are tons of books in each series. I also realize that I could talk all day and all night about which paranormal/fantasy romance books get me excited the most. I’ll just say…stay tuned for more lists of favorites from this genre!
Short Premise: This series is based on a gigantic family of Vampires. Yes, they can be born and don’t always have to be bitten to be a vampire. The series encompasses not only the immediate Argeneau family but extended family – and even goes into friends or coworkers. There is one common factor: Marguerite Argeneau. She seems to be a secret matchmaker and may be the cause of most, if not all, of the life mates discovered in the books. You’ll have to read to find out if she’s always correct. She does eventually have a book of her own, though it’s very far into the series.
I began reading this series when I was in high school. With the first novel in the series, A Quick Bite, I was able to make my first friend. While sitting in class, I noticed she was reading the same book as me and, as young nerdy shy teens might do, I wrote her a letter. I remember mentioning how I thought we had the same tastes in books, due to the rest of the novels I’d seen her read those first months, and how I would like for us to be friends. Over the years, I’ve read the rest of the books in the series. Once I was able to make (and save) money on my own, I began to buy them and have continued to do so as an adult.
If you are looking for a series that is all about vampires, violence (in the form of killing bad guys and rogue vampires), life mates, sex-sex-sex and more sex, and a continuous collection of characters that can elongate the series on and on and on — this is the one for you. Admittedly, there are a few books that are lacking in plot, character, and identity, in comparison to the other novels in this series, but I love them anyway.
I must add, the author did begin a spin off series called “Rogue Hunters” but she seems to be taking a break from this vampire universe to write more historical romance (some of which I am also very fond of, but that’s for another list).
I will also say, I strongly, STRONGLY, suggest reading these books in order. Of course, they attempt to standalone but you will ruin a lot of the books for yourself if you do not. They are VERY intertwined, with characters meeting others, marrying others, potentially dying with others, going rogue, not going rogue, and even going on vacation with each other. So…Start with A Quick Bite.
I own 17 of the books in this series. Here are a few titles:
Short Premise: Imagine warriors open Pandora’s box and from it come dangerous demons that inhabit their bodies. Each demon is a different deadly sin (or pulls from the bad in all of us): Promiscuity, Greed, Dishonesty, Death, Pain, Doubt, Secrets, and the list goes on. Each warrior must find his mate or risk losing himself to his demon forever.
I came up with that on my own and it sounds incredibly cheesy but it’s more intriguing than I play at here. I’ve been thinking of re-reading this series because the author has come out with new installments that I haven’t read and I’d like to start over. I really love how each demon the author writes is very well thought out. For example, the keeper of lies must only tell the truth. It is physically painful for him to lie. He can also sense the truth in others. And on and on with the rest. I also enjoy the fact that the heroines in these novels aren’t all damsels waiting to be saved. They aren’t all weak and innocent and sad and looking for their hero.
I picked up the first of these books on a whim and suddenly fell in love. This was years ago (many, many years ago) and the further I venture into the genre the deeper my memory of all the different plots hide. It’s funny because I forget tons of things (like my own birthday and if I did laundry) but rarely do I forget what a book was about – if I really liked it. I would suggest this series because it actually has an interesting concept and the writing felt fresh.
I own at least 6 of the books in this series! Here are some covers:
Short Premise: The men from the Zetithian species are handsome with especially keen cat-like features (and reflexes), protective instincts, and incredibly intense sex drives (and orgasmic abilities) that are spread across the universe. Their home planet was destroyed by vengeful men who were intimidated by their sexual prowess and they, sadly, have either become enslaved or were left to believe their species was eradicated. On their quest to find other Zetithians, and new homes, they find women whose smell makes them (and their sexual nature) come alive again.
I actually began re-reading the novels in this series earlier in the year. They are hot. AND I MEAN HOOOOT. The sex is steamy and erotic and turns you on. This is a warning because the sex is very graphic, I don’t want to hide that from you at all. If you are looking for something to make your ears red – and to hide from the girls at Bookclub – this is it.
The good thing about these books, though, is that they actually have plot, setting, and some sort of meaning to them. Although it may seem like it, they are not all about sex. I also love the fact that these books don’t take place on Earth. I’m so sick of the idea that every other species is ‘lesser’ than humans and they ‘need’ Earth. There are so many different planets – and life forms – that the author introduces you to that are way more interesting. The heroines in these novels are not always full human. –I think that a rare Zetithian female is the heroine for one of the newer novels but I haven’t read it yet.
If you are also looking for a series that takes you into the sky, has elements of science fiction, these are for you.
I own 5 books in this series. Here are some covers:
Short Premise: There seems to be a consistent theme across these books. The person you fall in love with may be the person you least expect. Most of the stories follow characters of different species, races, backgrounds, or simply different campgrounds (as in the last one) that fall in love. It’s light, honest, sweet but sensual, and has a fresh air quality to it.
Alright, so…YES, this series is more TAME than any of the others on this list. It’s not because I want to give you a reprieve. I don’t. It’s because I was shopping for a new story, something to end my Reader’s Block (ugh) and I was reading the synopsis for the first book (A Werewolf in Manhattan) and I just had to get it. Luckily, I was at a sale and they had the first four books.
I really enjoyed the premise for these books, the catchy-ness of their titles, and how they are mostly lighthearted. There is still sex, kissing, a burning need for someone who understands YOU and loves YOU despite the species you are but there is less of that and more of ‘falling in love’. Also, it still follows the guidelines of a paranormal romance novel but it isn’t as murderous as the rest of the books on this list are.
NOTE: If you are looking up the novels on the author’s website I’m going to apologize right now. In my research for this blog post, I’ve realized the covers have changed. They are no longer the adorable, colorful, cute covers you see below – the ones I have in my own library. They have moved into Paranormal Romancelandia – a place I’ve started to hate – where all the covers look the same and all the men on said covers look the same and everything is dark, sexy, and broody without any distinction between them. The VERY reason why I picked up the first book in this series is because it DIDN’T fit into that category. And yes, I judged a book by it’s cover. That is the first line of defense, after all. So, I’m sorry. Hopefully you will be as lucky as me with the colorful covers – should you decide to buy the physical books. I still recommend you read them. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, as I was.
—In doing more research, I’ve discovered that the newer books on Amazon are ONLY available with the new covers. Although, I will read them, I doubt I’ll be buying the inconsistent covers for my collection.
Short Premise: Outside of the ‘normal’ world there is the shadow world where demons, and other creatures, live. In the shadows is the demons are also known as protectors. They cannot partake in the sins of humans (sex, gambling, desire, etc). There are dire consequences to being with a human and most of these dwellers have sworn against it. lest they give into the Madness humanity brings. Though they all break this oath eventually.
I started this series when I was a young preteen. I was 14 when this book came out and I got it from the library, snuck it in the bushes by my house (so that my religious mother couldn’t see), and brought it in later when everyone was preoccupied. It was one of many romance books that I’d read by moonlight, devouring it in hopes I’d one day be a paranormal romance writer myself.
I just learned that there is a spin-off series from the Nightwalkers called The World of the Nightwalkers, in writing this blog, and it has 5 more books (t). I’m pretty sure I’ve read a book or two from these but I can’t remember right now so I can’t speak to the quality of them but I’m tempted, like with the others, to re-read this series so I can read those!
About The Subseries:
Each of the Night Walker books are titled with a name: Noah, Jacob, Gideon, etc.
Each of the Shadow Dweller books are titled with a word: Rapture, Ecstacy, Pleasure, etc.
Each of The World of the Nightwalkers books have titles with F words: Forbidden, Forever, Forged
NOTE: You WILL need to read NW first, then SD, THEN TWNW as characters, names, deaths are mentioned as the books go on.
I own 7 books in these series’: Here are covers from each sub-series:
P.S. I have so many more that I love and want to share with you. I have a few that I read on a whim, forgot to write down (I JUST started using Goodreads to track my Read list) and when I rediscover them I will make a new list! I’m excited about that as well. I hope you enjoyed!
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
With a small pink razor, stolen from another foster kid, I shave at the sporadic hair on my legs. I hear her voice, my adoptive mother’s, in my head with each down sweep of the blades, “if you shave your legs the hair will grow back thicker. Then you’ll have to keep shaving and shaving. Forever.”
I don’t care. Even at eight years old I want to be like everyone else, baby smooth skin that’s soft to touch. The way it used to be. I want to wear dresses and shorts without feeling the prickly spikes of embarrassment move against flowy material. I curve my hand slightly but it’s just enough for the blade to nick my skin.
Sucking in a quick breath at the sharp sting, I watch as a bead of blood wells to the surface. It slips down and taints my skin. I watch it still and I get an idea. It blooms in me like a rose. Its petals vibrant. I push on the nick and pause to watch more blood follow the path of the razor, down toward my ankle where it pools in the divot near my heel. I know what to do. I’ve heard about it from one of the girls that slept in the basement rooms of our foster home. She talked about a friend who found a way out. Of pain. Of fear. Of abandonment. Because, even this age, I know exactly what that word means.
I know what the word feels like. The way it wraps around your throat, each letter like fingers tightening as they mold to the contours of your flesh. I know what it sounds like. Rain pattering against window panes as you’re left behind. Watching the cars drive by, wondering if you’ll be remembered or if they will go on with ‘family’ day without you. I know what it looks like. The way it swirls in the air, red in the color of betrayal. It’s a word you’ll feel long after you’ve healed from it. If you ever truly heal.
I’m back in the bathroom a few days later and I’m ready. I’ve set myself up by announcing that I haven’t yet showered. My adoptive mother tells me she knows, without looking up from whatever is more important. She says that she can smell the ‘fonk’ on me. “You’re the first one to notice your own stink,” she’s told me so many times. This time, I wonder if it’s just another lie she tells.
I look in the mirror, a reflection that I can see only by standing on the toilet, and I nod. Then I’m smiling like a loon. Here we go. Climbing down, I grab the razor from the lip of the sink and dig my tiny fingers between the plastic sides. With much force, it cracks, but the part with the blades held fixed.
“I can’t even get this right,” I say in a low whisper. The hot tears come fast, welling and falling before I can blink them away. I’m grabbing and pulling and the sharp edge is slicing at the pads of my fingers. I feel the pain but am determined. I might even like the pain. The way with each slice brings up a paper thin flap of flesh.
Sitting on the toilet lid, I pull up my knees and yank until finally the blades are free. They are wet with sticky blood and I almost yell triumphantly. Dropping the rest of the razor to the floor, I bite the fleshy inside of my cheek, sit two blades on the windowsill and take the third in between my fingers. It’s a precious jewel that I cradle fondly, for a few seconds.
Then I’m cutting. Down and down, until I break through the skin and the lean meat of my small wrist. It’s hot, the area of incision, and I wait for the blood. It slips over my skin and drips onto my knee. It’s fascinating and I sit transfixed under the spell.
Next to the first line I make another, pushing until the skin is broken and then I’m frowning. It doesn’t hurt as bad. The initial shock – gone. Switching to my non-dominant hand, I slice into my right wrist and there the adrenaline is again. It fills me and I close my eyes. I roll back my shoulders and stand a little straighter. I’m in control. This is my body. No one can tell me what to do with my own flesh. They can’t take my limbs from me and I will do whatever I want with them. I am defiant, as everyone always tells me, and I’ve taken it in stride.
With the second cut I go deeper, longer than the other three, and I feel a jolt in my hand. A tingle that spears through each finger, then circles up to my elbow and round my shoulder. The shock of it sparks fear and I drop the blade to my feet, where it narrowly misses the bathroom carpet. I sigh in relief as it settles against the tile with barely a sound. A whimper escapes as the pain grows and I’m watching the blood fall quicker from this fourth cut. I scramble to gather toilet paper to the wrist, and it spins off the roll, spilling in white sheets onto the floor. My left wrist has caught up. It’s dripping profusely and I jump up to stand over the sink.
I didn’t want to end it today, I think. I just wanted to practice. I just wanted to see if I could. If it was easy. My chest is tightening, breaths a quick staccato against the silence of the bathroom. ‘She had a panic attack and…’ I remember one of my teachers saying, after I nearly passed out a few months ago, and I stand up straight. I hold my breath, hoping to stop the rising sense of relinquishment. Then I’m counting; One, Two, Three, Four. The blood has slowed, I see. I flick on the faucet and run both stained wrists under the cool water. It stings and I’m sucking in another breath.
I hear someone calling my name. Dinner! I’d completely forgotten. I’m turning the water on full blast now, hoping to wash away my sins. The water irritates the cuts and blood flows again. A vicious cycle. I feel stupid. Useless. Like the waste of space that I am. We have dinner every night. How could I forget that?
Finally, I cut the water to the faucet and then gingerly sidestep to the shower and cut the water there, too, and then I’m wrapping my wrists in wads of toilet paper. I quickly grab the blades from the sill and the one from the floor and wrap them too. I stick them in the small pocket of my jeans and the towel that is in the color assigned to me. Wrapping my wrists, doubly now, I make a quick exit into the adjacent bedroom. My name is called again and I yell that I’m putting my clothes on.
In my room, I change and put on a cropped jean jacket. It’s long sleeved and the material snags on the wadded toilet paper on my wrists. I slide the buttons closed and look at myself in the mirror. My eyes are wide and I know I look feral. There’s a thin line of wayward blood across my check and I’m wiping. Wiping, and wiping and scrubbing it away. I’m scrubbing and then I’m hitting. I’m smacking a small hand against my check for being so stupid. Then I know I must end it. Just not today.
At the dinner table, I sit with my hands in my lap, mock respect. My adoptive mother is going on about how it’s ‘just so rude’ for me to make everyone else wait while I lollygag. I know she’s thinking about why does she always have to punish me. And how I can’t be ‘more important than everyone else’.
“That’s not how the world works,” she says and continues on her diatribe of things Jade doesn’t know about the world. I do this so often, always so late, all the time. I know that when she winds down another punishment is in order. I fidget in my seat while thinking of what it might be.
Would it be 12 licks with daddy’s thick leather belt? Mom saying “this hurts me more than it hurts you” followed by “as soon as you stop jumping around and stay still I can finish”? Would it be hours sitting in front of the fire place? A punishment tailor made for me because I had books in my room. And “Go to your room right now and think about what you’ve done” wasn’t a punishment but a reading vacation and one I savored every moment I could. Would it be one thousand admonishments where I’d admit how stubborn I am, write out my crimes and promise to do better? Hands cramping with every “I’ll never waste everyone’s time by thinking I am more important than them again. I apologize. I apologize. I apologize.” Would I be banned from the library for 2 months? The worst punishment of all because the house of books was my only safe space, the only place I truly felt happy, the only place where I can cleanse myself of all the anger and the fear and immerse myself into another life.
More punishments went through my mind as I made myself smaller and smaller in my chair. I get it, at least, I think I do. I’m not important and shouldn’t make myself out to be. “You can’t be something you’re not’ was another of her admonishments. I nod and she corrects me ‘use your words’. I look up and she’s staring right at me. Everyone is.
My brother’s sitting right next to me and yet we feel so far apart. He is the only biological sibling that I have that still seems to love me and I can feel him slipping away. Everyday he tells me how I was ‘found in a trashcan’ and if I slip up one more time he’ll take me back. Next to him is the new girl who’s name I often forget. She smirks at me because she’s a hell raiser, at least that’s what my adoptive mom calls her when she’s on the phone with her prayer group. On the other side of the table, next to Mother, is my adoptive father. He’s my favorite person in the world but I can tell by the look in his eyes that he won’t save me and he won’t stop her rant. He never does. He’ll let her go on and on until my nods are not enough to placate her. I lower my eyes to my lap, submissive, and see a bit of toilet paper peeking from my jacket sleeve.
Can they see what I’ve done? I shove my hands further into my lap and depress the urge to wince as the cuts in my wrists grind against the now sticky toilet paper.
“Hello?” she says to me, sarcastically drawing out the O, and I’m looking around. My brother is smirking at me from across the table and I jump. He’s holding a plate of warm garlic rolls in my direction. I can see butter melting in the slits topping each one. Gingerly, I lift my arm to take the plate, and a roll, before passing it on. She has a screwed look, the one where her lips go to one side and her eyes narrow. I can see it from the corner of my eye and I think any minute. Any minute now and she’ll ask what’s wrong and that’ll be the worst.
I’m a horrible liar, I know. I fidget in my seat and then dig into my food that she’s already plated due to my tardiness. It satisfies her and she instead of dishing out one of her infamous punishments she begins her rounds of the table, everyone having their turn in the spotlight. “How was your day? What did you do? Did you learn anything?”
I take a deep breath around a bite of thick mashed potatoes and relax. ‘One day but not today,’ I think. I sit and listen as everyone tries to find something interesting to say and pretend they did. When it comes around to me I think of my wrists. I think of something I might say.
“I slit my wrists today. I didn’t want to kill myself, only see if it would be easy – should I want to. It hurt. It hurt so bad that it felt good. I still want to kill myself, one day. But for now I just want to revel in the pain that sears through my body. It makes me think of everything that has ever been done to me, will ever be done to me, and how this is different. It’s me, saying what goes. Saying WHEN,” Instead, I shrug and continue eating, slowly chewing so I don’t look like a chow. I remember to use my words and my fork hovers.
“I finished reading my new book,” I say.
“I thought you just got that book yesterday,” she says between bites of fried chicken.
“I did. And I finished it. It was fantastic. It was about…”
“So that’s what you were doing in your room. Didn’t I tell you not to spend all day up there reading? Those people aren’t real. How will you ever learn anything about making a human connection, about god’s creatures, about the true meaning of life, if you just have your nose stuck in a book? All…” I stopped listening. This is what she did.
I was selfish, embarrassed, angry, reserved, I liked books over people. Hell, I liked bacon over people. But it wasn’t until that day, sitting there listening to her explain how books will never make me happy, that I realize books can make me happy. Books can make me positive, optimistic, and light. They can teach me about human connection, about god’s creatures, about the true meaning of life. They can show me a full way to live.
As she goes on, I day dream of meeting a man who will love me for me and about creating a family that I can take care of and show what it means to truly be supportive – like in the romance novels. I think of the thrillers that keep me on the edge of my seat, what’s going to happen next? Who killed who? Why did they kill? Why do humans kill? I think of the adventurous books. How archeology opens you up to the world of old and teaches you that life’s a puzzle to discover. I think of the horror novels when bad things happen to good people and even though they die in the end a lesson has been learned.
I nod and look attentive and she gains her second wind. As she starts up again, telling me how I’m not the daughter she hoped for, I think of stories filled with dragons and vampires that are living and find love despite their soulless nature. I day dream and I wish and I hope and pray and think and decipher and enthusiastically appeal to the witches of fate and then, instead of the blades I used just twenty minutes ago to mar my body, I think of a different outlet. A different way to escape.
I’ll become…a scholar.
I wanted to share my February reads with you! These are the books I was able to finish. It’s been a busy month. I haven’t been able to get through some that I wanted to, I also was able to finish others in less than a day. You know how it goes, sometimes you choose a book because you think it will be beneficial to your writing or your business, or personal growth, but once you actually start reading it you wonder if you just aren’t ready for it at that time (which happens) or if the book really is…EH.
That was a lot in one sentence but you know exactly what I mean. I didn’t have a specific GOAL in mind, numbers or lists wise, but I knew that I wanted to make sure I made reading a priority. Despite all that’s happening with school, my little baby, my guy, and trying to eat and cook healthier meals that cross cultural bounds. Sounds cool but really…I just want to make some new shit because I’m tired of the stuff I always make.
This is great for Overdrive though, because I can listen to audio books while I cook – if I’m not watching cooking shows, and that helps me get into the narrative more. Anyway, here are the books that I finished!
Here are the books that I either was unable to get to this month or that I found a bit EH starting off. As you can see I’ve added three books by African American authors, in the spirit of Black History Month, and yet I wasn’t able to get to them. I still have them though – the physical copy, EBook, or audio book – and I do plan to get to them this month (March)!
If you have any books you would like to suggest or have read any of these let me know in the comments! I’d love to chat with you about them. Be on the look out for new reviews!
This makes 20/120 books read for 2020 from January and February!