Recent Reads 6

It’s time again for another round of recent reads! This time I’ll be talking about an adult contemporary fiction about immigration, a YA contemporary with a thriller twist, and the conclusion to my new favorite series. If you want to see more, you can find my last “Recent Reads” here.

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

Release Date: March 2, 2021

Genre: Adult contemporary/literary fiction

Pages: 191

Trigger warnings include: animal abuse, racism, violence, mention of forced sterilization, rape, loss of a loved one

Goodreads Synopsis

For readers of Valeria Luiselli and Edwidge Danticat, an urgent and lyrical novel about a Colombian family fractured by deportation, offering an intimate perspective on an experience that so many have endured—and are enduring right now.

At the dawn of the new millennium, Colombia is a country devastated by half a century of violence. Elena and Mauro are teenagers when they meet, their blooming love an antidote to the mounting brutality of life in Bogotá. Once their first daughter is born, and facing grim economic prospects, they set their sights on the United States.

They travel to Houston and send wages back to Elena’s mother, all the while weighing whether to risk overstaying their tourist visas or to return to Bogotá. As their family expands, and they move again and again, their decision to ignore their exit dates plunges the young family into the precariousness of undocumented status, the threat of discovery menacing a life already strained. When Mauro is deported, Elena, now tasked with caring for their three small children, makes a difficult choice that will ease her burdens but splinter the family even further.

Award-winning, internationally acclaimed author Patricia Engel, herself the daughter of Colombian immigrants and a dual citizen, gives voice to Mauro and Elena, as well as their children, Karina, Nando, and Talia—each one navigating a divided existence, weighing their allegiance to the past, the future, to one another, and to themselves. Rich with Bogotá urban life, steeped in Andean myth, and tense with the daily reality for the undocumented in America, Infinite Country is the story of two countries and one mixed-status family—for whom every triumph is stitched with regret and every dream pursued bears the weight of a dream deferred.

Brief Review

“She told them her mother was abroad and sent her back to Colombia when she was a baby. But this particular family condition was so common it couldn’t possibly be considered trauma.”

While this book is less than 200 pages, it tells a powerful and important story that I found myself wanting to take my time with and that I think will stick with me for a long time. I was most struck by Engel’s writing. She sometimes is very straightforward and sometimes takes a few pages to give readers some folklore or legends that paint a picture of Colombia and its people and that adds greater significance and context to what the characters are experiencing. There are certainly some heartbreaking moments with this family and the fact that Engel is able to show the complicated dynamics of a family separated in so few pages is amazing. Something that my eyes were especially opened to through this story is the ways so many programs and opportunities in the US set up for immigrants can pose such a risk to those same people and their families. By trying to enter that system, they are bringing attention to themselves and those around them and that increases the risk of splitting up their families even more. I can’t say much else since this book is so short but I do want to end this with some recommendations of books I thought of while reading this one: Native Country of the Heart by Cherrie Moraga & Create Dangerously by Edwidge Danticat. These recommendations are partly to do with themes but mostly to do with the writing style.

One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Release Date: January 5, 2021

Genre: YA Contemporary, Thriller

Pages: 384

Click here for trigger warnings.

Goodreads Synopsis

The Hate U Give meets Get Out in this honest and powerful exploration of prejudice in the stunning novel from sister-writer duo Maika and Maritza Moulite, authors of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine.

ISN’T BEING HUMAN ENOUGH?

When teen social activist and history buff Kezi Smith is killed under mysterious circumstances after attending a social justice rally, her devastated sister Happi and their family are left reeling in the aftermath. As Kezi becomes another immortalized victim in the fight against police brutality, Happi begins to question the idealized way her sister is remembered. Perfect. Angelic.

One of the good ones.

Even as the phrase rings wrong in her mind—why are only certain people deemed worthy to be missed?—Happi and her sister Genny embark on a journey to honor Kezi in their own way, using an heirloom copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide. But there’s a twist to Kezi’s story that no one could’ve ever expected—one that will change everything all over again.

Brief Thoughts

“I know that existing as a human on this Earth should be enough to deserve respect and justice. But it isn’t. Instead, we focus on those who we deem worthy, for whom we allow ourselves to feel the weight of their loss.”

*I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

The only thing I knew about this book before going in was that it was pitched as “The Hate U Give meets Get Out” and that was enough to get me excited. I dropped everything as soon as I got a notification from Netgalley and found a compelling story and characters I really loved but aspects of the structure and writing didn’t work as much for me. I really liked the set-up of this story. Getting to know all the key players and their pasts that would become important later caught my attention and I especially enjoyed getting to know Kezi and her girlfriend. I also liked the multi-generational aspect of the story. You get to learn about Kezi’s family history and what sparked the road trip in the first place. There is also a mystery element that REALLY picks up in part three and was especially gripping. The ending provided some powerful commentary on how the media portrays Black people when they are killed and how they decide who is worth mourning – who is “one of the good ones” – and the impacts of those decisions.

The main aspect of the book that brought down my reading experience was down to transitions between scenes. Sometimes scenes would end and there was not really an indication we were moving to something else apart from a paragraph break and sometimes it took me a bit to realize what was happening. I would quickly get back on track but there were a few times when I felt like a couple of sentences might have been missing. I also felt like I wanted a little more from the ending. The peak of the action was very late in the story and then it was just over.

Overall, I still recommend this story as it deals with important themes of police brutality, who we decide is worth mourning, and what can happen when racism is passed down through generations. Even though I had some issues with the writing, I think the positives definitely outweigh any of that.

The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin

Release Date: August 15, 2017

Genre: Adult fantasy

Pages: 416

Click here for trigger warnings.

Goodreads Synopsis

Since this is a series, here’s a link to the synopsis of the first book, and this one.

Brief Thoughts

“But for a society build on exploitation, there is no greater threat than having no one left to oppress.”


About halfway through this book, I knew that this would be my favorite series and that I would do a journal spread commemorating it. The stakes were so high and I loved and cared about all of these characters and while a ton of world-building isn’t exactly something that interests me, the way Jemisin does it kept me hooked until the end. I have been on a journey trying to learn what I like in fantasy and am so thankful for this series existing and showing me what I enjoy. What I really appreciate about this series are all of the real-world themes Jemisin covers in this fantasy world. This story is very much about surviving but it also contains discussions of environmentalism, blood relations vs. found family, prejudices, and slavery and exploitation. I was constantly thinking about current events and because of the intersection between environmentalism and oppression, I started thinking about how climate change disproportionately impacts communities of color and there are so many other topics to think about in relation to this story and that is something that usually comes along with books that I consider to be favorites. I don’t think I’ll stop talking about this series for a while and I definitely recommend it if you’re into adult fantasy and want something a bit different and complex to try. I’ll certainly be reading Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy in the future.

What have you been reading recently? Have you read any of these? Are you interested in any of them? Come chat with me!

I participated in a self-imposed 48-hour readathon and here’s what happened

I’ve been reading a lot this month but most of it was not on my initial June TBR. I am participating in the #MakeYourMythTaker Readathon but I also found so many other books I wanted to read that didn’t fit any of the prompts so I sprinkled them between my readathon books. That being said, on the 25th I wasn’t sure that I’d actually even finish the readathon at all. I had one and a half books left to read plus I was in the middle of another book I wanted to finish. So I set myself a challenge.

Thursday at 11:00 AM, I decided I would start a 48-hour challenge to see how much I could read. I needed to read half of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, half of The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien, and get a good start on These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling. 

I started the readathon by reading The Hate U Give. I was on page 200 and had about 240 pages to go. My goal was to finish the second half in one sitting. The plot was escalating and I was really invested in Starr and her journey. I completely forgot about lunch (which, to be fair, is VERY common for me) but around 2:30, I had to eat something. I took a fifteen-minute break to eat and then finished the book by 3:00. I really enjoyed this book and it was easy to sit and focus on. That’s a big issue for me; I’m not that great at focusing on one thing especially when my hands are still but this book really kept my attention particularly in the second half.

It was around this time two people in the hallway outside my apartment decided they were going to talk about politics and COVID for actual hours (“You watch. This virus will disappear as soon as the election is over”) so it was a perfect time to put on my headphones and read along with The Fellowship of the Ring audiobook. I like to read along with audiobooks especially when the text is a little dense or when I am generally having a hard time focusing on one thing and this method really helped me with The Fellowship this time around. I got through about 80 pages before I really needed to charge my phone so I took a little snack break and watched The Golden Girls

My partner asked if I wanted to ride to the store with him and we picked up dinner on the way home. By then it was 8:30. I only had about fifty pages of The Fellowship left so I listened to those. I love the ending of this book because it really gets you excited for what’s next. I hope I can get to the rest of the trilogy before too long!

I then immediately started These Witches Don’t Burn but I only read about 30 pages before I started falling asleep. I decided to put it down and fell asleep around midnight. I was certain that I could finish this book before the end of the 48 hours I’d allowed myself. I was feeling ambitious but confident. I was wrong.

The next morning, I read about 50 pages before I got in a mood. During the pandemic, I have been more prone to times where I will just zone out with the TV on and do absolutely nothing for hours. I did this yesterday. I was very aware that I was wasting time and accomplishing absolutely nothing. I felt bad about it but not bad enough to actually read, or write, or take an Instagram photo. I just sat there. Early in the evening, I did get a good chunk of reading done before having dinner. Afterwards, I read quite a bit more before feeling drained and I just sat around until I went to bed.

I had a few hours to read this morning and I took full advantage of them. I’m currently 73% through These Witches Don’t Burn and am very happy about that. I’ll definitely finish it before the end of the month and I *might* have time to start Home Before Dark by Riley Sager too.

So here’s what I learned. If I stay off social media, I can actually read a lot. Who would have known?!? I am really good at keeping up reading stamina for 24 hours but the second day is probably going to get me. I might start trying to dedicate 24 hour chunks to reading more often. When I go back to work in August, that will definitely not be possible as often but I do want to try as much as I can. 

PS – If you read all of this, you’re a saint and I appreciate you.

Checking In

First and foremost, I’m sorry for not being active on my blog in the past week or so. The current events surrounding George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent protests made everything else in my life feel unimportant, I have been sharing resources over on my Instagram and Twitter but there are tons of other, more qualified creators speaking out on these issues so if you want more information, please seek it out. This link will take you to some places where you can help. This link will take you to some articles that discuss institutionalized racism and its history. If you were helping and amplifying black voices in the past week, keep that energy up because we are far from done. 

Additionally, I have been feeling a lack of personal motivation. These things might be related but I have just found myself spending a lot of time with the television on just zoning out for hours and not wanting to do much of anything. To be completely transparent, I have generalized anxiety and depression so I am working this week to push myself to read, write, clean, and leave my apartment so that my mental health can try to recover. Since this is a blog about books, I wanted to talk a little about what I’ve been reading since I last posted.

At the end of May, I started Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. I know. I’m late. I was browsing the tiny book section at my local Harris Teeter and picked up the mass-market paperback. I have since finished this book and I gave it a solid three stars. I was interested in quite a few characters and their plotlines but I do think it was a bit longer than it needed to be. There were times I found myself a bit bored but generally, I enjoyed laughing at the ridiculous concerns and worries of rich people. Paired with some of the real concerns and obstacles characters were facing, it makes for a read that made me feel a range of emotions.

I also started the audiobook for Gold Dust Woman at the end of May. This book is a biography of Stevie Nicks and follows both her career and personal life. If you’re like me and have listened to the Rumours album in the car with your dad a million times, you know that there is plenty of drama and scandals to be found. It’s written like most biographies about music; the writing is a bit dry but it was interesting to listen to while playing Animal Crossing or folding laundry.

I am currently halfway through Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. I don’t really read fantasy but some friends voted on this for our buddy read this month so I thought I’d go along for the ride. I was seeing a ton of people talk about this book and say that it’s good but it takes forever to get into it. Maybe this is my newness to fantasy showing, but I have been pretty invested in this book since the beginning. I haven’t really been bored at all yet. I plan to write a review with more of my thoughts when I finish since this is my first foray into modern fantasy so we will see how I feel as I keep reading!

You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned any of the reads I planned for my #MakeYourMythtaker readathon. That’s because I’ve only read one: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Every time I read this book, I enjoy it and then can’t decide if I like to book or the movie better. They both have elements the other doesn’t that I enjoy. I also think the commentary about politicians and figureheads is incredibly interesting for a children’s book. There is definitely more to unpack (excuse the stereotypical English Major™ phrase) here and I think about this book more than I probably should, if I’m being honest.

I haven’t started the second book for my #MakeYourMythtaker readathon yet because I got sucked into some Kindle $2.99 sales. Right now I’m about 20% of the way through Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann. This book follows Alice who definitely isn’t looking for a relationship after just being broken up with by her ex-girlfriend. But then she meets Takumi and really likes him. Since Alice is asexual, she has to navigate what this attraction means and a summer rom-com ensues. I’m not usually a YA contemporary romance person but this has been a cute read so far. I plan to review this book as well so keep a lookout for that!

All in all, I’m not sticking to my TBR in any way this month and I would feel bad about it but I’m just here to have a good time! Have you guys been sticking to your TBRs this month? Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Do you want to read any? Come chat with me in the comments!