Plum Bun: A Novel without a Moral

Hello!

This is my first blog post from my new house. This weekend I moved to Houghton, Michigan, and tomorrow I start my new job at Michigan Technological University. I am simultaneously excited and nervous. I spent today doing a few things around the house, reading, and thinking about how I should do this damn blog post that I have been saying I will do for weeks!

A few weeks ago I finished Plum Bun: A Novel without a Moral by Jessie Redmon Fauset. This book was originally assigned for a class I took in college, but was cut from the book list when we ran out of time. In my American Lit class in graduate school, we had the opportunity to create our own book list to study any era of American Literature that appealed to us. I chose the Harlem Renaissance and loved it. I originally picked up Plum Bun back in February because I wanted to read something for Black History Month, and this is where I landed.

This book is about Angela Murray. As a young girl, she discovers she has the ability to pass as white. She learns this from her mother, who can also pass. Angela makes the decision to move to New York as a white woman. She believes that if she can get to New York she can start her life as a white woman with a certain level of privilege, find a white husband, and be set for life. She thinks that removing her blackness from the world will also remove her problems. This story follows Angela through her time in New York and examines her relationship with her sister, Jinny, who is not able to pass. Angela desperately desires to become and artists, and the characters she meets along the way are enjoyable and provide insight into her circumstances.

I liked this book, even though it took me forever to finish! It wasn’t one that I could fly through, and I found myself reading in small chunks. I did like Nella Larsen’s Passing better in terms of a text about passing. I enjoyed how long I was with Angela and how I got to see her live her daily life, not just a snippet of her experience.

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Two Girls Down

You. Guys.

I just finished Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna. It was my January pick for Book of the Month. I was having some remorse about not picking The Woman in the Window because I am seeing it allllllll over Instagram, but once I started Two Girls Down, I was hooked. Initially, I thought it would take me a bit of time to get through because of how fast my last few books went, but I read it in only a few sittings. I stayed up late, read before work, and thought all day about how I couldn’t wait to get home to wrap up this read!

Two Girls Down is about a pair of sisters who disappear from a parking lot when their mother runs an errand. The police start to search, but find nothing, so the family of the girls hires Alice Vega. Alice is known to find missing kids. She teams up with an ex-cop to find the girls before it’s too late.

I’ve talked before about how I really enjoy mystery/thriller shows and movies, but do not tend to read many books in the same genre. This book may have turned me into a mystery/thriller fanatic. I loved Luna’s writing, I thought the story was great, and the book avoided two components of this genre that bother me. Both of those things would be spoilers, though, so I’m choosing not to elaborate!

This was the best book that I have read in a while, and I will be keeping my eye out for a similar read.

Into the Water

I was gifted a Nook for Christmas a few years ago, and have only read a few books on it, mostly when I am traveling, or cannot find a book that I want to read locally. My local library was reading Into the Water by Paula Hawkins for their monthly adult book club in January. I had decided I was going to start attending, so I purchased the book on my Nook (thanks to my brother for the B & N Giftcard for Christmas!) and got reading. Unfortunately, I had forgotten about a work event on the night of book club, and I was unable to attend. However, I did still finish the book.

*I just had to pause writing this because my dog projectile vomited across my living room. I live a glamorous life.*

I liked Girl on the Train, but had been told by many people that I shouldn’t think of Into the Water as the same type of book. I didn’t know what that meant, and went in with a really open mind, and no expectations. However, I found some similarities between the books. Both were a bit suspenseful, mysterious, made me really consider what I knew (and didn’t know) about the characters, and left me relatively satisfied. I don’t think Hawkins is creating incredible works of fiction that will be read in classrooms for years into the future, but damn, they are entertaining.

After Nel Abbott is found dead in a local swimming spot, her sister comes back to their hometown to look after her daughter, and dive into the mystery surrounding her family, while learning more about her relationship with her sister. I will say that the list of characters felt long in this book. It was difficult for me to keep them all straight at the beginning, especially while reading in e-book format because it was not as simple to page back and get my head aligned.

This book was an entertaining read, but not as suspenseful or as much of a thriller as I had hoped.

The Mothers

I finished The Mothers by Brit Bennett on New Years Eve, but had to wait to do a post because it was also someone’s Christmas gift (oops), and I had to send it to them.

I heard all of the hype about The Mothers on all kinds of podcasts and book recommendation lists over the past year. I completely understand why! It has been a long time since I devoured a book like this. I loved Nadia. She’s not perfect, she has regrets, but she also keeps moving forward.

Nadia is struggling with her mother’s suicide and her relationships. She is angry. She falls for the pastor’s son, and Nadia finds herself in a situation where she has to make decisions on her own, and without support. This decision stays with her and impacts her decisions for years.

I loved the gossipy group of the church Mothers who narrate this book like a Greek Chorus. Pick this one up if you haven’t yet!

 

The Doll Funeral

I recently finished The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer. I won this book in a giveaway, which was really exciting (and I took a killer Instagram photo with the cover).

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I liked this book. For some reason it took me a long time to get through it, but I was able to pick it right back up whenever I decided to open it. The main character in the book is a girl named Ruby who lives with her parents – a father who physically and emotionally abuses her, and a mother who cannot intervene. Ruby recently learned that she is adopted, and is determined to find her real family.

You quickly learn that Ruby sees things that others around her cannot see. This escape helps her to find the motivation to keep going, even when the road to finding her parents is tough. Because she can see things others can’t, it keeps you wondering if characters are real, and I found this unreliable component kept me engaged in the story.

There were a few pieces of this story that I didn’t like, but they were overshadowed by what I did enjoy.

Happy reading!

The Vacationers

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I was on vacation last week, and it was wonderful! I spent seven days in a cabin in northern Wisconsin. I did not have any cell service, internet, or a television. I spent time kayaking, playing with my dogs, playing cards, and doing plenty of reading. I read one book each full day I was there. This week I will be blogging and posting on my Instagram about each of my reads.

First up, is The Vacationers by Emma Straub. This was my first book by Straub, and I devoured it. It was full of gossip and rich people problems, making for a quick and fun read. I really enjoyed Straub’s writing and will most certainly pick up more of her books in the future. I really love following her on Instagram!

This book is about the Post family who is on a two week vacation on a beautiful Island in Spain. The Post parents are trying to sort out what infidelity means for their marriage, the Post daughter is trying to lose her virginity before she goes to college, and the Post son is deciding how to navigate his relationship with his older girlfriend and how to discuss his financial woes with his parents. Some family friends along for the ride throw in some added complications. Overall, this book is about family and how complicated those relationships can be. The book did a great job of revealing the tensions that can come along with a family vacation where each person has high (and often different) expectations. This is a great summer beach/lake read, for sure.

Happy reading!

Big Little Lies

I have been focusing on reading more frequently. While I usually look for larger chunks of time to read, instead I have been trying to read in shorter spurts, even if it is only one chapter at night before I go to sleep. I have been stressed to the max with work, managing my household, and taking care of 8 (yes 8!) animals at the moment. I have four foster kittens at the moment, but they are ready to be adopted, so hopefully that will lead things to slow down soon. Taking the time to read and unwind at night is helping me to fall asleep sooner, and not stay awake thinking of everything I need to do.

I finished Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty this week. This book was basically the juicy reality shows (think Real Housewives) from Bravo that I love so much. I loved the gossipy, secret-keeping characters who try to only show the best parts of their lives to the people around them. It’s so not my world, which made it a great way to escape. The pages just kept turning! I was able to figure out the twist/mystery, but appreciated how the book kept my attention.

The book centers around a few families who all have children in an elementary school. The kindergarten mothers cause particular controversy as they all try to sort out which of the kids has been bullying one girl in the class. You know right away that there is an incident where someone dies, and you hear quotes from witnesses and gossip mongers in each chapter, but you do not really know what happened or who died until the end of the book. Throughout you fall in love with Jane, the new mom in town. Jane, as a young and single mom is trying to sort out where she fits into the world, and in the school.

I will be adding The Husband’s Secret to my TBR, and will pick it up when I need a fast and gossipy read!

I’m jumping back into my books-to-read-in-your-20s list with my next two reads, which I picked up from the library today. I am seven books behind on my book challenge, but hope to play some catch up with my new reading routine!