The Rift

Author: Rachael Craw

Published: October 8, 2019

Publisher: Candewick Press

Where I picked up my book: From the publisher (THANK YOU!)

Key Words: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Fantasy

My Rating: 3.5 stars

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My Thoughts: 

I should preface this review by saying that I’ve never read urban fantasy before. I know…how in the world have I gotten to be my age and never read urban fantasy before?! Well…I have no idea but I’m glad this was my introduction to the genre. I was completely swept up into the world and spit out when I read the last sentence.

First, the atmosphere of this island was so well written, I felt like I was on the island myself (and I didn’t steer away when my thoughts drifted to wanting to actually live on Black Water Island myself from time to time throughout the reading). Minus the rabid dogs, lack of technology, and slight creepiness that is 😉 What I really liked was that this is an island where people come together for one cause, and that wasn’t lost on me. But don’t be fooled by that description, it’s also an unsettling island full of intrigue and THAT is what made me take a deep dive into this book.

Second, the relationship between the two main  characters, Meg and Cal, reminded me of those young adult feelings that most of us have experienced. I rooted for them, felt nervous for them and wanted to cheer them along from my seat on the couch. Craw wrote these two characters so well (really all of the characters so well), I felt like I knew them by the end of the book. And bonues, the ‘childhood friends getting together later in life’ troupe is always a favorite of mine and here it was!

Third, corporate greed and interests were an underlying theme in The Rift and I’m ALWAYS here for talking about that more, seeing how it impacts all of us little ones, and how it will affect us in the future. Corporate greed is my nemesis (especially as a small business owner regularly affected by corporate greed) so for this reason alone-I was completely enamored by this book. More.talk.about.corporate.greed.in.novels.please.

Fourth, magical animals…need I say more?!

If you love adventure stories (especially island stories) mixed with sci-fi, fantasy and folklore along with strong characters, nature, mystery, relationships and a bit of scary-you’re going to enjoy this book! I kept thinking it contained a sort of fantasy, mysterious, Swiss Family Robinson vibes and I’m 100% in for that. The Rift has made me want to read more urban fantasy/fantasy books and I’m so thankful that this one came in my mailbox!

As always, let me know what you thought if you’ve read this one! Find me over on Instagram (@bookishfolk).

bookishfolk…read instead.

Here We Are

Author: Aarti Namdev Shahani

Published: October 1, 2019

Publisher: Celadon Books 

Where I picked up my book: From publisher (THANK YOU!!!)

Key Words: immigration, family dynamics, memoir  

My Rating: 3.75

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My Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I felt like I was given a front seat at a table that I have never sat at before…and I truly felt honored to be there. This is the story of the Shahani family, who came from India, through Casablanca, to Queens, New York. It’s a first hand, poignant account of what happens when undocumented people land on US soil, how undocumented people are treated, what is at risk for undocumented people, what happens to become documented, what life is like after you are documented, and everything in between. Yes, this is a first and account and is unique from this particular woman, but from what I hear and from what I have read, this story resonates with many families trying who are trying to call the United States home. We see the struggles, the pitfalls, the risks, the desires, the stresses, the intense fears…but we also see the hope, the laughter, the strength and the determination. Here We Are opened my eyes to not only what the process is like and specifically, how this family dealt with the good, the bad and the ugly of coming to America.

Here are some of my takeaways about our immigration system:

1. Immigrating to the US is not for the faint of heart and why in the world do we make it so complicated and corrupt?!

2. It seems like the story for every immigrant family is struggle. Struggling in their home country, and then struggling when they get to the US. As a country, we can do better to help with the transition. No one should have to live in cockroach infested homes, or a home that has a water leak causing toxic mold to grow because they are afraid to report it to a landlord who could report them as undocumented. No one should have to live with broken windows or broken heat in the middle of winter because they are nervous to set off someone’s radar and potentially get deported. It’s infuriating and we need a better system to support families that want to come to the US.

3. Our justice system is broken and corrupt and toxic, especially when dealing with immigrants. We can, and need to, do better!

4. In conclusion-WE CAN DO BETTER!

There is soooo much more in this memoir to talk about and discuss, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. I went in pretty blind and was completely taken by Shahani’s journey. This is an articulate memoir that is sure to infuriate you, make you cry, make you laugh, help you better understand the role of family in many cultures and ultimately…I hope, lead you to talk more about immigration and our role in it all. Our country is intrinsically tied to the immigration experience and I think this book will not only help give a voice to many immigrants who are currently voiceless, but help to shine a brighter light on a highly relevant topic of today. It’s an honor to have read Aarti Namdev Shahani’s story and I’m thankful for her courage to write it. I will definitely be on the lookout for anything else Shahani offers us!

bookishfolk…read instead.

 

Red, White and Royal Blue

Author: Casey McQuiston

Published: May 14, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Where I picked up my book:  my local indie

Key Words: queer, political, romance

My Rating: 5

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Synopsis (via Macmillan website):

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER that is a *MUST-READ BOOK* for US WEEKLY, VOGUE, NPR, OPRAHMAG.COM, BUZZFEED, and more!

What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.

My Thoughts:

Oooof…how do I put into words just how much I loved this book. I should start out by saying that at first, Red, White and Royal Blue wasn’t even on my radar. I thought it sounded a little too fluffy for my liking and maybe a little too youthful for my old lady status. BUT Ohhhh I was SO WRONG and anyone that might have these thoughts too-give this one a chance and I can pretty much guarantee, you won’t be disappointed!

First, I just can’t stop thinking about how gloriously queer this book is! When I think about representation in books or movies, I have trouble thinking of a single piece of fiction that I read or watched as a kid where I could see myself within the pages. Maybe that’s why it took me a long time to come out-to myself, or to my friends and family? Maybe that’s why in relationships, it always felt like something was missing from them? Maybe that’s why I felt like there was something off in my life, but I just didn’t know how to pinpoint what that was? After reading books as an adult, it’s so obvious-I was missing representation. I never saw myself  in the books I was reading or the movies I was watching. I saw white, straight couples on a regular basis and that’s all I knew, so I set out to make that straight life happen. (I was already born white, and with that comes the privilege of seeing my color at least represented in books or on the screen, but that is definitely not the case for so many people.) So I tried living that straight life I thought I was suppose to live. I tried, and I failed. I realized who I was. THANK GOD! But I can’t help but wonder what path I would have taken if I was able to see a lesbian couple creating a life for themselves in fiction. Or a gay couple raising a family. Or a teen working through their sexuality and coming out to themselves. All of that to say, representation matters and I am so so SO happy to see books like this now popping up all over the place. We are seeing representation all across the spectrum now (in terms of race, culture, religion, body types, gender, family structure, sexuality, etc) and I could scream it from the rooftops how happy I am about that. It gives me such high hopes for the future generations!

Second, the political talk in this book is real. It’s far from fluff, but instead, it’s true political commentary on our past and current state of political affairs here in the US, as well as what the British monarchy looks like up close and personal. I took a deep dive into that aspect of the book and loved every second of it.

Third, the character development is fantastic. By the end, these characters were my friends and I still think about them on a daily basis. “How is Alex doing today?” is a regular thought of mine since finishing up this book.  We get to immerse ourselves in a thought out and detailed relationship, we can imagine what it feels like to be the sister of a prince, we feel each character’s feels and have a good hold on their thoughts. Plus, the characters outside of the two main characters are not just there as props, but we know them equally as well, if not more, than the mail characters themselves. You will fall in love with them all-promise. Well…the maybe not the queen, but the rest of them, yes 🙂

Fourth, this book is seriously funny. I found myself laughing out loud multiple times while reading. All of the characters have a great sense of humor, banter and a deep friendship between each other and it was everything.  I was lucky enough to hear McQuiston speak last week at my local indie and I’m happy to announce, she’s just as funny in person as she is in her writing. It shows in her writing and I couldn’t have loved that more if I tried.

Fifth, and maybe most importantly, this book gave me hope for our future. After a hell of a rough election in 2016, I’ve had a feeling of dread and fear settle into my life. All of a sudden, I find myself constantly worried for my friends and anyone of color in this country. I fear that my own marriage could be taken away or that my wife and I could be put in harms way because we love each other. I dread what our future looks like when someone like Trump could be elected in the first place. I am nervous for all of my queer friends to travel outside of the safety of our own bubbles we have created for ourselves. I fear for immigrants in this country that are being torn away from the only home they know and deserve and for children being separated from their families at the border. I get nervous for all of us women at our jobs and walking down the street. I could go on about my fears and anxieties that have risen up in me since 2016, but for the first time in a long time, I’ve read something that has given me hope and helps me see that the future might be brighter than I had once thought. I am surprised that I found this hope in a rom com, humorous book that at first glance I thought I was too old for, but that’s what is magical about this book. I’m so incredibly thankful to McQuiston for that.

All of this to say, run, don’t walk to grab Red, White and Royal Blue. You won’t be disappointed and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be screaming it from the rooftops to anyone that will listen…”CLAREMONT FOR PRESIDENT” and “HISTORY, HUH?”

bookishfolk…read instead.