Source: Library

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Memoir Review: Here For It

June 22, 2020 Uncategorized 6 ★★★★★

Memoir Review: Here For ItTitle: Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America; Essays
Author: R. Eric Thomas
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: This book was a joy to read, managing to be relatable and informative, humorous and heartfelt all at once.

I picked this up expecting a celebrity memoir, because the internet told me it would be hilarious and I would love it. The internet was right and I was wrong. This turned out to feel less like a memoir and more like an essay collection (albeit one impressively organized both thematically and in chronological order). Since that’s a genre I prefer, I was thrilled.  It was, as the description promised me, both “hysterical and heartfelt”, although I would say it was both nearly always, not “by turns”. And I did love it. I loved everything about it. Read more »

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A Memoir in Essays: Minor Feelings

June 10, 2020 Uncategorized 2 ★★★★

A Memoir in Essays: Minor FeelingsTitle: Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning
Author: Cathy Park Hong
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: A great essay collection, blending memoir with thoughtful social critiques.

“Asian Americans inhabit a purgatorial status: neither white enough nor black enough, unmentioned in most conversations about racial identity. In the popular imagination, Asian Americans are all high-achieving professionals. But in reality, this is the most economically divided group in the country, a tenuous alliance of people with roots from South Asia to East Asia to the Pacific Islands, from tech millionaires to service industry laborers. How do we speak honestly about the Asian American condition—if such a thing exists?” (source) Read more »

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Contemporary Fiction Review: Interior Chinatown

May 27, 2020 Uncategorized 0 ★★★

Contemporary Fiction Review: Interior ChinatownTitle: Interior Chinatown
Author: Charles Yu
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: Sometimes funny and thought-provoking, but at times comments on social issues were more clear than the plot.

“Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as a protagonist even in his own life: he’s merely Generic Asian Man. Every day, he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He’s a bit player here too. . . but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy—the highest aspiration he can imagine for a Chinatown denizen. Or is it?” (source) Read more »

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Top-Notch Nonfiction in Review: Midnight in Chernobyl

April 30, 2020 Uncategorized 6 ★★★★★

Top-Notch Nonfiction in Review: Midnight in ChernobylTitle: Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster
Author: Adam Higginbotham
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: Well-researched, detailed, and engaging – this personal look at the Chernobyl disaster is definitely going to make my best-of-year list.

I’d been hearing great things about this book, but when I read that the author had been researching the book for 10 years, that’s when I really got excited. And I was right to be! The cover copy also describes this book as the ‘definitive’ account of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and I think that’s spot on. The author has interviewed everyone from engineers to plant supervisors, first responders to politicians. Using these interviews, he’s able to give a detailed, personal account of every part of this story.

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#NotTheWellcomePrize Review: Invisible Women

April 28, 2020 Uncategorized 12 ★★★★

#NotTheWellcomePrize Review: Invisible WomenTitle: Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
Author: Caroline Criado Perez
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

 

I only heard about The Wellcome Prize and their mission to highlight books that ” have a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness” within the last year or two. This year, I was looking forward to following along, so when the prize went on hiatus, I was thrilled to hear Rebecca of Bookish Beck would be hosting a Not the Wellcome Prize blog tour to tide us over. The books we’re reviewing will comprise the longlist for this year’s #NotTheWellcomePrize. A shortlist will be chosen by May 4th and after that, you can contribute a vote to selection of the winner on twitter, so be sure to follow along and look out for the voting announcement! Read more »

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Arab American Heritage Month Review: Our Women On the Ground

April 23, 2020 Uncategorized 2 ★★★★

Arab American Heritage Month Review: Our Women On the GroundTitle: Our Women on the Ground: Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World
Author: Zahra Hankir, Christiane Amanpour
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: These essays give a fascinating and varied perspective that made it well wroth the effort required to read it given my minimal knowledge of the Middle East.

This is an incredible collection of essays from a bunch of brave, talented, Arabic journalists. I loved hearing about their professional and personal lives. As the editor described in her intro and as these stories make clear, working as a woman covering the Middle East is a dangerous undertaking. These female journalists work under a ‘double burden’, working in countries that often fail to protect either women or journalists from harassment, violence, and violations of their human rights.
Read more »

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Nonfiction Review: The Great Successor

March 31, 2020 Uncategorized 4 ★★★★

Nonfiction Review: The Great SuccessorTitle: The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un
Author: Anna Fifield
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: This was fascinating, as both a biography and as a history of North Korea.

I was thinking of picking up some fiction (88 Names) that includes Kim Jong Un as a character and realized I might enjoy it more if I knew something about him first. Fortunately, Rennie at What’s Nonfiction recommended this biography highly enough that I remembered her review from last year. The author of this unusual biography had access to a wide variety of sources, which she uses to give both a personal look at Kim Jong Un and some insight into the history of North Korea. Read more »

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Historical Fiction Review: The Confessions of Frannie Langton

March 23, 2020 Uncategorized 6 ★★★

Historical Fiction Review: The Confessions of Frannie LangtonTitle: The Confessions of Frannie Langton
Author: Sara Collins
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: This story had a  protagonist I loved getting to know, but the second half of the book lagged.

“All of London is abuzz with the scandalous case of Frannie Langton, accused of the brutal double murder of her employers, renowned scientist George Benham and his eccentric French wife, Marguerite…But Frannie claims she cannot recall what happened that fateful evening, even if remembering could save her life. She doesn’t know how she came to be covered in the victims’ blood. But she does have a tale to tell: a story of her childhood on a Jamaican plantation, her apprenticeship under a debauched scientist who stretched all bounds of ethics, and the events that brought her into the Benhams’ London home…” (source)

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Feel Free: An Excellent Essay Collection in Review

March 18, 2020 Uncategorized 7 ★★★★★

Feel Free: An Excellent Essay Collection in ReviewTitle: Feel Free: Essays
Author: Zadie Smith
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: Complex, thoughtful, yet enjoyable and engaging essays.

As I’ve been nearing the end of my reading of Zadie Smith’s body of work, I was considering whether it was worth continuing when I hadn’t found a five star read. I had concluded that I was glad to have read her books regardless. They’ve all made me think and I think of her books as modern classics. They’re probably being taught in classes and if not yet, I expect they will be. I’m happy to be familiar with her work. That said, I was still holding out hope for a spectacular essay collection from Smith, since I love her topics and her prose but not her plots. This essay collection certainly delivered! Read more »

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Review: Swing Time by Zadie Smith

March 16, 2020 Uncategorized 3 ★★★★

Review: Swing Time by Zadie SmithTitle: Swing Time
Author: Zadie Smith
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: One standard-issue Zadie Smith novel – lovely writing, complex themes, an engaging story, convincing characters, and a disappointing ending.

“Two brown girls dream of being dancers—but only one, Tracey, has talent…It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either.” (source) Instead of growing up to be a dancer, our unnamed narrator becomes the assistant to an incredibly famous pop star. Her work completely takes over her life, but eventually presents the opportunity to visit West Africa as part of the pop star’s charity efforts. Read more »

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