I made a commitment this year to pick up more varied books this year and actually discuss them in some compacity. With that said, welcome to the first Monthly Round-Up for MissAddled Miss!
I actually read a lot more book than I thought I would. I’ve been a bit on a YA binge and, as always, there are a few nonfiction and a graphic novel. Huzzah! So without further ado.
A Very Large Expanse of Sea
This book was exceptional. Set in post 9/11, the main character, Shirin, is a 16-year-old hijabi just trying to make it through high school. She hides behind a mask of cool indifference to shield herself from the bullying and racism she deals on a daily basis from both the kids and adults she encounters in her life. Then she meets Ocean who ends up breaking down some of those walls. Of course, there’s more to the story than that.
The book, on its surface, is a romance novel but it tackles Islamaphobia, how certain relationships (interracial/interreligious) get twisted into political statements, the courage for some to live as their authentic selves, and the dangers of stereotyping even as a means of protection.
The nuances of this book and how it tackles all these as two kids just try to be together is one of the many reasons I fell hard for this book. More so than I think I did at first. If all romances were written like this, I think I could get behind the genre more. Or maybe I should just pick up more romance books.
Genre: YA Fiction, YA Romance
Themes: Islamaphobia, Racism, Discrimination
The Best Land Under Heaven
First nonfiction book of the year! This book recounted the expedition of the ill-fated Donner Party of 1846 and the dark side of Manifest Destiny. Well, Manifest Destiny is inherently dark but that’s neither here nor there and something I’m not really willing to go into now.
The Donner Party was a family caravan (consisting of multiple families which include the Reeds, Donners, Graves, among others) that decided to make their way to California through the less tried Hastings cutoff that diverted from the Oregon Trail through the Sierra Nevada. Lansford Hastings, for which the trail was named, advocated it as a faster way to get to California shaving off several weeks as compared to the main route. Much delay and poor decisions along the way lead to the whole of the caravan being trapped in the Sierra Nevada for four months with little food. A good chunk died from the starving and the cold. Some survived through cannibalism which is what is known most about the Donner party in today’s pop culture.
The book served as a good overview of the Oregon Trail and traveling conditions during the 1840s. It was a very readable account of this historical moment offering a narrative look of everything that was happening during that time period. I highly recommend it to anyone who would love to learn more about this time period and the Donner Party in general.
Genres: Nonfiction, American History
Themes: Manifest Destiny, Nineteenth-Century America, Mexican-American War
This book was an exquisite dark fantasy with evil queens, an all-encompassing empire and a magic system that I find fascinating. The book follows to heroines. There is Rielle from the kingdom of Celdaria who undergoes trials to determine whether if she is the prophesized queen of light or queen of blood. One thousand years in the future, Eliana is working as a bounty hunter for the Undying Empire. The legend of Rielle is no more than a myth for her as she struggles to survive. Not just for her but for the family she supports. The story is told by their dual perspectives.
This is an amazing start to Empirium trilogy! I have so many thoughts about this book which I’m saving for a more detailed review. Suffice it to say, that when I read this book I struggled to put it down. I really can’t wait to see how the story progresses in the upcoming Kingsbane!
Genres: YA Fiction, YA Adventure/Fantasy
Themes: Prophecies, Rebellion, War, Love
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Lara Jean keeps her feelings of love sealed in the love letters she keeps in a secret hat box. She’s never openly admitted to any of her crushes and she chooses to keep it that way until all her letters of affections are sent out and her life is flipped upside down.
I decided to pick up this book partly because of the buzz surrounding the Netflix movie which I have not seen as of writing this. I’ve admitted before in my Yesterday review that romances(at least strictly romances) are not my cup of tea. But I may have to change that because I fell head over heels for this book. Seriously! The romance was quirky and cute but also really down to earth in a way I found refreshing. The more relatable parts for me was Lara Jean’s relationship with her sister and her tendency to live in her own little fantasy bubble (been there, Lara Jean, been there). I’ll talk more about this book (more specifically, it’s ending) in a future review.
Genre: YA Romance
Themes: Love, fantasy, high school politics, family bonds
A chance meeting between Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray at a bingo hall in 1963 sparks a 60-year romance where both experience the ups and downs of life and love.
The first graphic novel of the year! This book was so cute! There seems to be a bit of a love theme here despite my protests to never enjoying romance but with this book, I couldn’t help it. There was just something so charming about this little story and the enduring power of love. My only real complaint about this book was that I wished there was more of it.
Genre: Graphic Novel, Romance, LGBTQA+
Themes: Love, discrimination, family, religion
What did you all read in the first month of this year? What are your thoughts on the books on this list for those who may have picked them up before?