I am still participating in NaNoWriMo, never mind that I haven’t written in several days, but I’ve also been making good progress on my Nonfiction November challenge and also I’ve maybe (definitely) read some books not on my TBR at all. So let’s talk about those, shall we?
Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo
I still don’t know how to rate this book. I don’t really know what to think about it at all, honestly. Joy Harjo is our new poet laureate and that honestly says a lot about her writing style. As a person who doesn’t really do poetry and doesn’t tend to jive with flowery writing, I struggled so much with this book. Harjo is a member of the Mvskoke Nation, although her mom was Cherokee so this book counted double for my challenges of Nonfiction November and Native American Heritage Month. She had a childhood where she witnessed a lot of domestic violence and she dealt with a decent amount of trauma. I think if you like poetic writing, you will like this book. If your brain works like mine, perhaps steer clear.
Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
In the afterward/author Q&A, Mailhot says that she wanted to be acknowledged for her craft and not have her work belittled to just saying that this book is raw. She indicates that this book is not raw, that if it were raw, she would have defended and justified herself and her actions. She also acknowledges that this book is about trauma and abuse. So, essentially, what I’m saying is that this book is honest. It is real and it is not fun to read. It’s not meant to be fun to read. It’s written in an interesting format too. Some of the chapters are written like a letter to a man named Casey. Some of the chapters have multiple timelines happening at once. It’s more literary than the nonfiction I usually read, but Mailhot’s voice is powerful and valuable.
Please note that the intro to this book is written by one of those dudes who sexually assaulted a whole lot of women authors (initials S.A.), which made the fact that this memoir deals a lot with trauma (especially sex trauma) a GREAT time. -_-
Moonlighter by Sarina Bowen
I was NOT expecting to love this one as much as I did, which is ridiculous because I’ve pretty much loved every single Sarina Bowen book I’ve read. That said, this series seems like it’s likely to be a big departure from her usual sports romances and even the True North series because it’s got suspense elements. That said, this first book is like Bountiful from True North in that it stars a Brooklyn Bruiser, Eric Bayer, who is aging and injured and maybe should consider what’s next for him. Except for the part where he doesn’t want to. During his summer vacation, his brother ropes him in to playing Alex Engles’ (whom we also met in Brooklynaire) boyfriend and actually being an extra bodyguard. He and Alex were friends for a month during their childhood and then recently ran into one another and Alex was really rude to him. However, Eric is a good dude and also feels a little obliged to do this. Also, Alex is pregnant and needs to be protected from her ex-boyfriend and baby daddy. This book is really something else, but also I enjoyed it a lot!
Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom
I absolutely adored this essay collection. There is so much to unpack from these essays, I’m really not sure how to begin my review. It tackles feminism, white feminism, beauty standards, class, race, and so much more. I really appreciated her thoughts on beauty and also worth. It’s just a brilliantly executed work of nonfiction essays and I cannot recommend it enough. There is a hard to read, but important essay in this collection where Cottom essentially states that one of the ties that bind too many black women together is the likelihood that they were sexually abused by someone, so definitely a content warning for that topic as well as the fact that she lost a child. She also references Serena Williams having to fight for appropriate care post-pregnancy. That essay is infuriating and makes me want to take on the entire medical system to scream at them until they’re better, but I guess that’s not the appropriate way to solve our problems. Here’s a quote I loved:
“Decades before I valued myself enough to be careful for myself, I was careful so that my mother would not worry.”
Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward
Look, I don’t know what happened. I read Dark Lover and was like, okay, this is fine, but all of a sudden, I just had this intense desire to continue the series and THANK GOD I DID. Not because of this book though, but hold on. About this book, it’s Lover Rhage and Mary to use the Fated Mates title, and is about Mary, a human with cancer, who is super kind and accidentally trips into the vampire world. Rhage essentially imprints on her immediately despite his manwhore ways and the book is just wild. Oh and also the Lessers are kidnapping civilian vampires now. It’s a lot.
Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward
HELLO NEW FAVORITE. Y’all. I was not expecting to fall hard for ANY of these books, but here we are. After the cliffhanger (plot wise) of Lover Rhage and Mary, I was DYING, so obviously I promptly continued. And Zhadist is one messed up dude. He’s so broken from his time as a slave (blood and sex) (also his trauma is very understandable) and I, um, adored this boo. Becca is his one true love and she goes into her NEEDING. Oh man. This book. It just really got me. I loved it a lot. Which is why…
Father Mine by J.R. Ward
I immediately skipped ahead several books for the novella featuring Zhadist and Bella approximately eighteen months or so later. Their bonding is in slight peril because Zhadist still needs to do more work on himself, but then he does and my beautiful darling is precious. I love him.
Shrill by Lindy West
I finally forced myself to return to the land of nonfiction given the month we’re in and my TBR and I’m so glad I did. I adored Shrill. I now want to watch the Hulu show. But I loved Shrill because I love the way Lindy West wrote about being a fat woman. So much of what she said resonated with me, from her time growing up to how she feels now as an adult. I just adore her and want to embrace some of that fearlessness she channels into her writing. There are so many brilliant essays in here. Also, she shares her abortion story and I loved what she had to say about that too. Here is a quote that’s probably too long for you to want to read, but that I love:
“I say no to people who prioritize being cool over being good. I say no to misogynists who want to weaponize my body against me. I say no to men who feel entitled to my attention and reverence, who treat everything the light touches as a resource for them to burn. I say no to religious zealots who insist that I am less important than an embryo. I say no to my own instinct to stay quiet. It’s a way of kicking down the boundaries that society has set up for women – be compliant, be a caregiver, be quiet – and erecting my own. I will do this; I will not do that. You believe in my subjugation; I don’t have to be nice to you. I am busy. My time is not a public commodity.”
The One You Can’t Forget by Roni Loren
I was approved for the ARC of the fourth book in this series of Roni Loren’s, which I determined meant I should get a move on reading the second and third books in the series. I love the way this series explores the effects of trauma on these women’s lives years after the traumatic event. The One You Can’t Forget follows Rebecca Lindt who gets mugged on her way home one night and is saved by both a dog and this random man. She was paralyzed with fear, having flashbacks to the night of the prom night massacre. The man who saves her, Wes Garrett, is dealing with his own stuff, not the least of which is rebuilding his life following his nasty divorce wherein Rebecca represented his ex-wife. Yet there’s this undeniable connection and chemistry between them that has the two of them continuing to spend more time together despite knowing it’s a bad idea. I will say though that this particular installment didn’t quite work for me and I’m not sure I can pinpoint why. I still think it was well-written and the story is compelling, but something felt off.
And there you have the books I’ve read so far this month! What are you reading? Any new favorites? Surprises? Let me know!