To All The Books I’ve Read Before (February Book Roundup)

Hello Friends!

I have to confess something. I didn’t think I got too much reading done last month. Finding the time to read was a bit of a struggle. Or, at least, it felt that way. In between fighting the flu and balancing reading and writing on my head while working, divvying up my time and energy for it was…something. But after reflecting on the month, I managed to get through some pretty interesting and varied titles!

So without much ado!

The Poison Squad
Deborah Blum

Poison SquadYes, I just finished it this month. I am a dutiful library patron and I had to give it up for a few weeks. It was really popular in my neck of the woods and one of the downsides of the library system is that you have to give it up if you don’t read it fast enough. Such is life!

The Poison Squad is a lesson in how we have to continually fight for the social change we want to see in our government and the world at large. The book circles back to the argument that we have to keep fighting for the institutions and protections set in place for us. The book was essentially about struggle. Struggle to get the national spotlight on how food gets adulterated and tampered with to make it on the cheap. The struggle to get laws passed to hold companies accountable. Struggle to enforce, struggle to maintain, struggle to update with the times.

I was reminded that history is a long game. Nothing happens overnight. Our modern regulation of food is a century-long struggle that is still happening each and every day.

Diary of a Tokyo Teen
Christine Mari Inzer

tokyo teenAn okay graphic novel about the author’s trip to Japan and how she connected back with her roots. The art style was fun and it was filled with a lot of good info about Japanese culture. It was only okay for me because I didn’t feel like I learned anything new from it. I studied Japanese a fair bit and even visited a place or two in the book myself during a college so I didn’t come across anything I didn’t know. The most effective parts were how she discussed her reconnection with her culture and lessons about growing up. How the world can be a big, exciting and sometimes confusing place and how that’s okay!  If you want a fun primer on Japanese culture, I highly recommend this!

Looking for Lorraine
Imani Perry

A1+3MQC3caLThis is perhaps my favorite book I read in February. I first heard about this book on the Call Your Girlfriend podcast and decided to pick it up after seeing it on the shelves of my local bookstore. This is a lovely memoir about the short life of Lorraine Hansberry–writer, playwright, queer and civil rights activist. She’s most known for her play, A Raisin in the Sun, but this book showed she was so much more than that. I most enjoyed how this was written taking elements of traditional biography and prose. Imani Perry also offers up some self-reflection and her sense of connection of Hansberry on her own life. The writing was very affecting, pulling from Hansberry’s own writings and painting a clear portrait of her life, her passions and her struggles. If you are at all curious about Lorraine Hansberry and the moment she occupied in history, I highly recommend this book.

Clara Voyant
Rachelle Delaney

clara voyantThis is one of two middle school reads that I picked up this month. Clara Voyant is a fun mystery about aspiring journalist Clara Costa who, as a newbie on her middle school newspaper, gets stuck with the horoscope section instead of the hard-hitting news she craves. She believes that horoscopes and other mystical things are a whole bunch of “woo” which she gets enough from her mother and her equally eccentric new friends in Kensington Market. But things get strange when her horoscopes come true and the school’s mascot goes missing. This was honestly a fun little book with interesting characters. It was a real pleasure to see the (sometimes funny) interactions between Clara and her mother. Who can’t relate to a parent you are sometimes embarrassed to be around. Also seeing how middle school politics play out in what’s considered noteworthy gave me a genuine shot of nostalgia as I think back to my (cringy) middle school days.

 

A Properly Unhaunted Place
William Alexander

a properly unhaunted placeRosa Diaz and her mother are library appeasement specialist move to the town of Ingot, a properly unhaunted place. But things are not what they seem. After being invited to the local history festival by Jasper Chevalier, they both figure that all is not what it seems. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s full of fun and scary spooks, some good pacing, and some really fun characters that I loved following. There are also some really important lessons on honoring the past and coming to terms with the more unsavory history of person or place. There were some really good quotes that were beautiful in sentiment.

To All The Books I’ve Read Before (January Roundup)

Hello Friends,

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

Tahereh Mafi

mafi 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


Michael Wallis

wallis_bestlandFirst 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

Furyborn

Claire Legrand

legrand_furybornThis 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

Jenny Han

han_toalltheboysLara 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

Bingo Love

Tee Franklin

franklin_bingo loveA 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?

This Month in Nonfiction [January 2018]

new world comingNew World Coming: The 1920s and The Making of Modern America by Nathan Miller

This is a really comprehensive history of the 1920s with due notes to the decade’s antecedents and the culture that followed it. I felt that a good deal of the book focused on the politics of the time (more so than any other history I’ve read thus far) where other other cultural aspects were bundled together under one chapter. I think I learned a lot from this book–again, particularly the political background and business side of the 20s–which was really eye-opening. I didn’t know much about Harding, Coolidge or Hoover. Learning what Hoover did before, after and during his political career was the most eye-opening. I may pick up a special biography about him if any of you have some good suggestions!

Overall, this was a dense book! Like really dense! It took me a while to get through it but I’m happy I did.

A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln & the 1846 US Invasion of Mexico by Amy Greenberg

This is a very engaging book about a war and time period (the 1840s) that I knew little to nothing about. The US-Mexican War is often overlooked in history classes. From my own experience in my high school history class, I remember my teacher briefly mentioning it, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and “BOOM,” we got California. Rarely did we touch upon the nitty gritty and its no wonder.

A Wicked WarThe narrative discusses how the US-Mexican war was not a noble one. Whilst poring over the details, on a surface level it reminded me of Vietnam. At least in its public perception from noble war to avenge American blood spilled to a growing antipathy towards it the longer it went on. (Of course, this war does not equal Vietnam–different conflict with different motivations.

Amy Greenberg centers her account of the war on a couple of central figures (Henry Clay, James and Sarah Polk, James Hardin, and Abraham Lincoln) showing how they and countless other actors influenced the course of the war and its conclusion. It also discusses how the war shaped them–again, that nice narrative quality.

I personally picked up the book to learn more about the 1840s as a decade and the US-Mexican war played a huge role in shaping it (as well as the following decades). I learned a lot and encourage others who are curious to pick it up.

Non-Fiction Book Highlights [December 2017]

For the last year, I’ve been hooked on nonfiction. Being a big history nerd, my shelves fill up pretty quickly with glorious nonfiction picks. Unlike fiction books however, I don’t tend to know what to say about a good deal most of them other than they’re amazing or they read like your typical dry academic text (of course, I’ll be highlighting the former more often than the latter). But I wanted to shed some light on them and I want to convince you (yes, YOU!) to read them!

1) Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

radium girlsThis book was extremely difficult to put down. From the moment I picked it up, I was feverishly paging through it. Despite being a history book, the language flowed like seamless narrative fully bringing each one of the many shining women to life.

There was a sense of doom that hung over the narrative. The book talks about all the girls poisoned by the Luminous Clock companies throughout WWI into the 1930s. Reading about the women’s misfortunes–to their medical problems due to their radioactive exposure to their prolonged fight against time to get justice against the companies who knowingly harmed them–was hard to read but very engrossing.

Recommend if interested in: work comp history, medical history, radium, stories about women, domestic American WWI stories

2) The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum

poisonershandbookI finished The Poisoner’s Handbook a little while ago. I was pointed in its direction after reading A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang (a wonderful historical fiction you should also read!!!) which used this book as part of its research.

This book was really good. Its a  superb nonfiction about the development of forensic toxicology in 1920s New York. It was a book organized by poison and how certain techniques were developed to detect these poisons in prominent murders cases. The two primary characters were Charles Norris and Alexander Gettler, major in the New York forensic scene. Not only do you get a good dose of history dressed in murder and poison, the book did a wonderful job in bringing both Norris, Gettler and the setting of New York to life.

Recommend if you’re interested in: murder, poison, Prohibition, forensic toxicology, 1920s

3) Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me by Janet Mock

surpassing certaintyI feel like Surpassing Certainty will grow to be one of the most important books I’ve read in 2017. I found myself bingeing the last 100 or so pages and it touched me more than I thought it would. Janet Mock’s reflections on her twenties, the twists and turns in her life, and her journey to find herself and be comfortable with herself really got to me.

Recommend if you’re interested in:  memoir. diverse perspectives (poc, trans, and lgbtqa), learning ways to navigate your twenties or life in general

The Weekly Obsession(s): October 5th, 2017

Funny enough, this one ha a theme!

For story reasons, I’ve been really into the 1920s–specifically, America in the 1920s. When I get hooked on an era, I tend to research its history, its literature, its music (especially its music!) so most of the stuff featured here will be related to that.

In Literature:

Anything Goes by Lucy Moore

anythinggoesbook

This book gives a comprehensive view of the 1920s decades, particularly in its exploration of the mass media of the time. One of the main critiques I’ve seen leveled at this book is how it’s much more concentrated on certain people/celebrities in its chapters, condensing an element of the decade down to a singular person’s experience. Though I tentatively agree with this assessment, I think the book’s organization fits with its topic. The 20s was a decade that showed a true democratization of the celebrity. They’re stories of people who came up from various backgrounds to be well-known commodities; movies, radio, and other elements of mass culture expanded most perceptions on what the world had to offer. This book, in the end, holds as a good in-depth cultural study of the decade.

I’ve been feverishly paging through the chapters in this! I’ve always found the 1920s a fascinating decade but it wasn’t till recently that I took the time to seriously figure out why. I mean, I’m familiar with jazz and Prohibition but going beyond those signifiers.

In Music:

I’ve been really into music from the 1920s. Another thing that I’ve been really into is electro-swing so every time I find a nice, wholesome mix of the two, I can’t stop listening to it! The proleteR song has actually worked as the background music for one of my latest writing projects.

In Media:

You Must Remember This Podcast

Case File Podcast