Recent Reads: Winter 2019

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Reading has always been a form of self-care for me. It’s my favorite way to escape the worries of daily life or to learn about a subject, person or activity I’m unfamiliar with. Here are some books I’ve read since the start of 2019.

1 | Times Convert (A Discovery of Witches) by Deborah Harkness

Description: “A passionate love story and a fascinating exploration of the power of tradition and the possibilities not just for change but for revolution, Time's Convert channels the supernatural world-building and slow-burning romance that made the All Souls Trilogy instant bestsellers to illuminate a new and vital moment in history, and a love affair that will bridge centuries.”

My Rating: 3.5/5 - Honestly, this book didn’t quite hit the mark for me as much as the original A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy) series which I really enjoyed. But it did provide more context for all of the main characters and a few ancillary characters you learned less about in the original series.

2 | Do What Feels Good: Recipes, Remedies and Routines to Treat Your Body Right by Hannah Bronfman

Description: “In Do What Feels Good, Hannah offers real talk about getting in touch with your body’s needs, baring her soul and sharing her story along the way. Hannah provides insight on everything from gut health to nutrition to fitness to skincare, sharing insight from top experts on how to understand your body’s unique chemistry so that you can fuel it with more of the things that feel good and less of the things that don’t.”

My Rating: 4/5 - I do really like DJ and wellness entrepreneur/influencer Hannah Bronfman. I also really enjoyed reading the recipes and learning a bit more about her wellness philosophy. But if you read any of the interviews leading up to the book launch, much of the book’s content will be familiar (this may bot be the case for you since I consume quite of bit of wellness content in my weekly reads + podcast listens). I see myself referencing the recipes in the book more than the other content honestly because it did feel so familiar. I should have done what I did for Michelle Obama’s memoir which was avoid all interviews and reviews of the book until reading the book (which I still haven’t done! It’s on my t-read list for March).

3 | Not Your Perfect Mexican American Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez

Description: “Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family. But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role. Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed. But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?”

My Rating: 4.75/5 - Though I could not relate to most of the experiences of the teen protagonist, I really thought this was a good read. It addressed being a first generation American with immigrant parents who don’t understand American culture; dealing with the death of a loved one, depression, not fitting in socially, racism, how it feels to straddle two cultures, dating, and more.

4 | Well Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves (An Anthology) by Glory Edim

Description: “Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging remains with readers the rest of their lives—but not everyone regularly sees themselves in the pages of a book. In this timely anthology, Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black women writers to shine a light on how important it is that we all—regardless of gender, race, religion, or ability—have the opportunity to find ourselves in literature.”

My Rating: 5/5 - This series of essays reminded me how much I truly love reading and what a large part of my life reading has taken. It also reminded me of how important it is to have literature you can relate to in some way during your formative years. Get this book and give a copy to friends.

5 | Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Description: “After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity--and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution...

Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba's high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country's growing political unrest--until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary...

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa's last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth. 

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba's tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she'll need the lessons of her grandmother's past to help her understand the true meaning of courage”

My Rating: 4/5 - I really enjoyed reading this novel. It was a poignant story about love, family and political freedom. I also learned a bit more about the era of Cuba leading up to and right after the Revolution and the perspective of America from a Cuban/Cuban American perspective. It made me want to visit Cuba even more to learn more about the complex history and culture of the country. I’m really looking forward to the continuation of the series which is from the perspective of the protagonist’s aunt Beatriz who was her beloved grandmother’s sister.