As per my post “Battle of the book clubs!” – I wanted to find the book club that best catered to my taste of variety, diversity and originality. I found about 8-10 book clubs I wanted to look into. For february I found 8 books that I listed in my Battle of the bookclubs february post. First of all, february is the shortest month! And I had a few other books I wanted to read this month (hello The Shards!) so I didn’t get through all of them, but here’s how it went:
Diverse spines: Moonrise over New Jessup by Jamila Minnicks
“𝙒𝙚 𝙝𝙖𝙙 𝙙𝙧𝙞𝙫𝙚𝙣 𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙥𝙖𝙨𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙨𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙖𝙧𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙗𝙚𝙣𝙙 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙧𝙤𝙖𝙙. 𝙒𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙘𝙡𝙖𝙮 𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙣𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙥𝙖𝙫𝙚𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙘𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙡𝙤𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙙 𝙡𝙖𝙧𝙜𝙚 𝙖𝙝𝙚𝙖𝙙, 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙒𝙚𝙡𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝙅𝙚𝙨𝙨𝙪𝙥 𝙨𝙞𝙜𝙣 𝙘𝙖𝙢𝙚 𝙞𝙣𝙩𝙤 𝙫𝙞𝙚𝙬. 𝙄 𝙥𝙪𝙡𝙡𝙚𝙙 𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙞𝙙𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙧𝙤𝙖𝙙, 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙙𝙮 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙖𝙘𝙠𝙡𝙚 𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙛𝙛𝙞𝙘 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙤𝙬𝙣 𝙟𝙪𝙨𝙩 𝙮𝙚𝙩.
“𝘼𝙣𝙙 𝙄 𝙜𝙪𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙨𝙖𝙮, 𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙄 𝙖𝙢.”
This is tough to review because the writing is soooo good, there’s just too much of it, if you know what I mean?
It has the vibe of “The Help” and if you’ve seen the movie, the narration is much like how the books is written. Just to give a visual. The issue I have with this is that it narrates the whole story! It doesn’t let the story flow. Dialogue in this voice is great, narration would be amazing, but every line? It doesn’t let up so you’re dragged along the whole book with language that’s kinda slow and stopping.
The story being set during the civil rights movement in a town completely segregated is thoroughly interesting! But the story itself and the writing did very little for me to highlight the interesting history behind it. History that isn’t very well known to me as a Norwegian reader.
I can see that this book is well liked, and I think it has niche audience appeal. But for the masses I think it’s too slow paced and difficult to follow. Or maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the problem and this just wasn’t it for me.
I must say that some sentences are so beautifully strung together that I had to write them down, but even that couldn’t redeem it for me. ⭐⭐
“𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙢𝙤𝙤𝙣 𝙧𝙞𝙨𝙚𝙨 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙨𝙚𝙩𝙨, 𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙩𝙘𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙚𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙣𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙩𝙤𝙜𝙚𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧, 𝙣𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙗𝙮 𝙣𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩.”
Read with Jenna: Maame by Jessica George
“𝙄 𝙖𝙡𝙢𝙤𝙨𝙩 𝙩𝙚𝙡𝙡 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙛𝙪𝙣 𝙙𝙤𝙚𝙨𝙣’𝙩 𝙚𝙦𝙪𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙝𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙨𝙨; 𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙮 𝙡𝙚𝙖𝙨𝙩, 𝙞𝙩 𝙡𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙨 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙝𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙄 𝙬𝙖𝙣𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙝𝙤𝙬 𝙩𝙤 𝙠𝙚𝙚𝙥 𝙞𝙩.”
Maame is twenty-five and living at home caring for her ill father while her mother is in Ghana living her life. She has had to grow up too fast, but grown as she is, she is still under the thumb of her parents and their culture.
This is a perfect example of a third culture kid situation that people will have problems understanding. She is raised by Ghanaian parents with their culture, but in the UK in a different culture. How she feels torn between the two is a difficult thing to explain, but the author does it extremely well!
I found myself agreeing to so many chapters and yelling “YES! That’s exactly what it feels like!” and “OMG I haven’t even thought of that!” -So I guess I learned some things along the way too.
“𝘿𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙖 𝘽𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙠, 𝙞𝙛 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙂𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙖𝙞𝙖𝙣, 𝙢𝙖𝙣 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙗𝙚 𝙚𝙖𝙨𝙞𝙚𝙧 𝙗𝙚𝙘𝙖𝙪𝙨𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙞𝙨 𝙡𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝙩𝙤 𝙚𝙭𝙥𝙡𝙖𝙞𝙣. 𝘿𝙤 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙪𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨?”
𝙄’𝙢 𝙖𝙗𝙤𝙪𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙨𝙖𝙮 𝙄 𝙙𝙤 𝙗𝙪𝙩-
“𝙏𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙬𝙖𝙮 𝙞𝙩𝙨 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙖𝙡𝙬𝙖𝙮𝙨 ‘𝙬𝙝𝙮 𝙙𝙤 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙙𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨?’ 𝙖𝙣𝙙 ‘𝙬𝙝𝙮 𝙙𝙤 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙠 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩?’ 𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙖𝙡𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙙𝙮 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙗𝙚𝙘𝙖𝙪𝙨𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙖𝙝𝙫𝙚 𝙡𝙞𝙫𝙚𝙙 𝙞𝙩. 𝙒𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙨𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙙𝙤𝙚𝙨𝙣’𝙩 𝙪𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙮𝙤𝙪, 𝙝𝙤𝙬 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙖𝙧𝙚, 𝙬𝙝𝙮 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙖𝙧𝙚, 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙛𝙞𝙣𝙙 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧𝙨𝙚𝙡𝙛 𝙛𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙡𝙤𝙨𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙗𝙖𝙩𝙩𝙡𝙚𝙨 𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙮 𝙙𝙖𝙮. 𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙨𝙚𝙚𝙢 𝙨𝙢𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙖𝙩 𝙛𝙞𝙧𝙨𝙩, 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙨𝙥𝙚𝙣𝙙 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙡𝙞𝙛𝙚 𝙬𝙖𝙩𝙘𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙢 𝙜𝙧𝙤𝙬, 𝙞𝙣 𝙨𝙞𝙯𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙞𝙢𝙥𝙤𝙧𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚. 𝙇𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙣 𝙩𝙤 𝙢𝙚, 𝙈𝙖𝙖𝙢𝙚. 𝙔𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙢𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙞𝙨 𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙮 𝙬𝙞𝙨𝙚 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙨𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙨.”
The books has some flaws, like the farenheit degrees? what was that about? Both UK and Ghana uses the metric system. And I’m not sure I buy a 25 year old gen-z? millenial? Being taken aback by a bisexual. Can you really be that sheltered in the age of the internet?
These are small inconsequential things, they just trew me off a little.
I like how she googles, and how she asks for advice. I like that sex wasn’t easy or amazing for her all the time. It’s rare to find books where sex is something you grow to like with the right partner.
I like Maame, she straddled beautifullly on the border of naive and curious without falling off too far into one direction. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Amerie’s bookclub: The hard road out by Jihyun Park and Seh-Lynn Chai
The true story of Jihyun Parks harrowing escape from the totalitarian dictatorship of North Korea.
Is it heartbreaking, infuriating, brave, impactful and much more? Absolutely! It’s all those things. It’s in incredible story about the life inside of North-Korea (because the book doesn’t begin with her escape, it begins with her childhood.) And then it becomes a story of bravely escaping. But is it an engrossing story that keeps you pinned with emotion and beautiful writing? Unfortunately, the answer is no. It reads more like an auto-biography than a memoir. It gives you the facts, and facts are kinda boring.
There are also limits to how many books you want to read on the same topic when the material is so depressing. I read “A river in darkness – one man’s escape from North Korea” a few years back and I found that book much more engrossing and alive. Or maybe it was all the matter of being first – I can’t really be sure.
It’s hard to give a star rating to someone’s lifestory that has been this hard. And this book could possibly be very important to others in the same position and I do not disregard that. I can only speak to the writing, the impact and how exciting it was for me to read. Unfortunately it wasn’t a good read for me. ⭐⭐
Belletrist: Brutes by Dizz Tate
A group of teenage girls are obsessed with Sammy, the preachers daughter. One day Sammy goes missing and the girls watch from a distance, moving closer and closer to the darkness.
Described as a crossing between the virgin suicides and the Florida project I’d have to say that’s the perfect description.
“𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙞𝙨 𝙖 𝙨𝙥𝙚𝙘𝙞𝙛𝙞𝙘𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙮 𝙁𝙡𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙙𝙞𝙖𝙣 𝙨𝙢𝙚𝙡𝙡, 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙠 𝙤𝙛 𝘼𝙢𝙚𝙧𝙞𝙘𝙖 (𝙢𝙞𝙘𝙧𝙤𝙬𝙖𝙫𝙚𝙙 𝙥𝙡𝙖𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙘, 𝙖𝙞𝙧 𝙛𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙝𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙧, 𝙝𝙤𝙩 𝙤𝙞𝙡) 𝙢𝙞𝙭𝙚𝙙 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙢𝙞𝙡𝙙𝙚𝙬 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙨𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙚𝙡𝙨𝙚, 𝙨𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙞𝙚𝙣𝙩, 𝙧𝙤𝙩𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙨𝙬𝙚𝙖𝙩𝙮, 𝙥𝙤𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙗𝙡𝙮 𝙡𝙞𝙛𝙚.”
This is the second book this month that I have both loved and hated at the same time. I absolutely loved the feeling of this book, the ambiance and the way the words were strung together. I loved how it was written in the collective “we” and how it merged the girls together. A clever way to show how teenage girls stick together and blend with each other to fit in.
It’s curious and raw, angry and innocent at the same time. It goes from the collective to a future singular? I got confused around the halfway point when the chapters started moving around in time and space. The writing was still good, even though you had no idea what the hell was going on. The story got lost somewhere in the middle there.
“𝙊𝙪𝙧 𝙢𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙨 𝙘𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙪𝙨 𝙗𝙧𝙪𝙩𝙚𝙨 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙬𝙖𝙣𝙩 𝙪𝙨 𝙩𝙤 𝙛𝙚𝙚𝙡 𝙗𝙖𝙙. 𝙄𝙩 𝙞𝙨 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙘𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙢𝙚𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙙𝙤 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙡𝙞𝙠𝙚, 𝙡𝙞𝙠𝙚 𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙙𝙖𝙙𝙨.”
It’s a hard book to review because it lost all it’s footing about half way. Before that, I absolutely loved it. After that, I was so confused I lost interest. So three stars? Maybe… I’m torn between five stars for writing, two stars for coherency. It’s almost like a really drunk dude slurring his words and hickuping so you don’t really get what he’s saying or talking about, but in between he says some profound shit you really connect with, and it’s probably because you’re wasted too, but damn it’s deep. ⭐⭐⭐
Reese’s book club: The house of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson
It’s the 50’s and two young black women live parallell lives that will intersect through the house of Eve.
Ruby grows up poor in Philadelphia, but she’s bright and talented and works hard towards a scholarship to break out of her family’s inherited poverty. One day she falls in love with Shimmy, a naive jewish boy and the future she has planned is up in the air when she finds herself pregnant.
Eleanor is better off than Ruby, but still finds herself lower class than many others in Howard University in Washington. Eleanor falls in love with William and also becomes pregnant, but struggles with fitting in with his family of a higher social standing.
This book is as much about love and circumstance as it is about the challenges of black women in 50’s America. And that’s a good thing! The author does well in balancing both historical and fiction. (Which is great for me, since I don’t particularly love the genre.)
At the same time, this book feels surface level. This is not a character development type novel, which is a shame, because there’s certainly room for it. Secondary characters feels like pawns with no depth, stereotypes to use to push the story and the main characters into action or emotion. This usually feels flat to me, in a way the world isn’t. I like to understand the motives of the antagonist as much as the protagonist.
The story feels very much like a story and it’s one you can see coming a mile away. This isn’t the twist and turn book it’s sold to be, like their lives will intersect in mysterious ways. No. Is it still a nice story? Yes. Is it worth it? Also yes. I enjoyed it just enough without being wowed by it. ⭐⭐⭐
(PS: This book was released a week into the month, so the book club didn’t announce it until a week late in the game. Which to me, is inconsitent and annoying for such a large bookclub.)
GMA book club: River sing me home by Eleanor Shearer
From what I’ve read this is a personal story for the author. Based on some family history from the Caribbean islands this story goes back to 1834 and The Slavery Abolition act. Rachel flees the plantation to find her five children sold by the slave owner. (I saw on the authors instagram that the working title was “A love that reassembles the fragments” and I have to say I think that’s a much better title for what this is!)
It’s an easy read. The language flows well and smooth. But in all honesty, I feel very removed from the story. Contemporary books written about a time 200 years ago are not my favorite. Magical realism is not my favorite. But the magical realism here is more tolerable than others I’ve read. So I’ll give it points for being easy to digest. However, the third person narrator seldom works for me, and it part of why I feels so distanced from the story.
“𝙏𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙣𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩, 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙖𝙢𝙚 𝙙𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙢. 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙗𝙪𝙧𝙣𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙧𝙚𝙚𝙨. 𝙈𝙞𝙘𝙖𝙝 𝙗𝙮 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙨𝙞𝙙𝙚. 𝙃𝙚 𝙨𝙖𝙞𝙙, “𝙏𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙞𝙨 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙝𝙤𝙬 𝙢𝙚 𝙙𝙞𝙙 𝙞𝙢𝙖𝙜𝙞𝙣𝙚 𝙞𝙩.” “𝙄𝙢𝙖𝙜𝙞𝙣𝙚 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩?” 𝙏𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚, 𝙝𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙨𝙬𝙚𝙧𝙚𝙙. “𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚𝙙𝙤𝙢.” 𝙍𝙖𝙘𝙝𝙚𝙡 𝙡𝙤𝙤𝙠𝙚𝙙 𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙙𝙚𝙖𝙙 𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙩 𝙖𝙧𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙢. “𝙉𝙤. 𝙏𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙞𝙨 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙝𝙤𝙬 𝙢𝙚 𝙙𝙞𝙙 𝙞𝙢𝙖𝙜𝙞𝙣𝙚 𝙞𝙩, 𝙚𝙞𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧.”
I also, often look for mistakes because my number one rule is that it needs to be believable. It can be science fiction and still be believable! It just needs to be well thought out. And when it comes to a certain time and place I need to feel like I’m there. And this missed the mark a little. I didn’t get a real sense of the place. Also at one point it said “After months in the forest, nbeing back in Gerogetown was an assault on the senses.” Would it really be though? It’s not like 1835 was the concrete jungle it is now. I don’t buy it. Also, time passes fast without any indication that time has passed. It just says so. I’d like more than “months later” just thrown in there. It reminds me a lot of the nightingale which millions of people loved, but I hated for this same reason. It wasn’t believable and time was a pawn and not a concern. The characters are also pawns being killed off to tug on your heartstrings. Again, just like the nightingale. In fact, if you’re in the majority that enjoyed that book, I’d probably recommend this to you. But it’s not for me. Unfortunately. ⭐⭐
My favorite february book:
Read with Jenna’s pick : Maame by Jessica George.
I found out this book was very personal after watching Jenna do an interview with the author. She wrote the book after dealing with her own fathers passing of parkinsons. This could be the reason why I loved this book so much, that her love and authenticity emanated from the pages.
It’s a coming of age story of a late bloomer, which I can relate to. It’s about figuring yourself out in your twenties. I’d recommend to anyone who relates to the third culture kid experience and who enjoys reading about finding your place in the world, in the workforce, in friendships and in love.
Books that matter: Amazing Grace Adams by Fran Littlewood
The Books that matter book club was having some technical difficulties with their boxes so they announced this one waaaay late (it was also published a week into february) AND they announed a month hiatus to fix things – so I guess I’ll do a rollover on this one into march, since I ran out of time and I still haven’t found the book anywhere!
Oprah’s book club: Bittersweet by Susan Cain
Oprah has entered the chat! And it looks like a good one. She came through with this mid-feb, so I’m doing a rollover on this one too, since I just got my hands on it. But this is one I am very much excited for. It feels like the perfect book for me just at this moment, going through some stuff. ❤