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Spring 2020 Reading Round Up

Spring has sprung!

What a wild spring it has been. I was incredibly excited to kick off Women's History Month in March, followed by Sikh Heritage Month in April, and then a bunch of whatever my heart desires in May.

I thought it was going to be an amazing time, despite the Chicago weather being colder for longer than I'm used to. I figured the silver lining would be that the spring allergies get put off for a little while longer and with the cold weather I'll just be stuck inside reading even more.

Instead, Coronavirus struck and our lives got turned upside down. Through the end of March and most of April I found myself in a weird place mentally, and not able to read as much as I would normally. The pressure to be productive with all this "extra time" wasn't exactly motivating either.

I'm sure many of us found ourselves in this situation. Our life thrown through a loop. I was lucky enough to be safe at home, and with plenty of options to distract my mind. But my heart was heavy thinking of those less fortunate. I struggled with going about blogging and sharing fun, relaxing content, while I knew others were worried about how they would pay their bills, struggling with health concerns, or feeling helpless while those they care about struggled.

After about a month, I found my anxiety peaking before I finally gathered the strength to put aside some of those emotions and get back to blogging and sharing small joys.

So here I am, sharing with you, some of the books I got lost in during this time!

March: Women's History Month

Photo by A.S. Nagpal Photography

1. Circe by Madeline Miller

This was a book club pick, and one that had been on my list for years, so I was happy to finally get to it. One chapter in, and I would personally murder anyone who hurts Circe. Actually, probably before the chapter ended I knew I would be a ride or die for Circe. I devoured this book and I love the story so dearly. The way it’s written, the characters, everything. I'm so glad it was a book club pick because I needed to gush about this book to someone when I was done. I actually couldn't wait until the book club meeting so took videos so I wouldn't forget any of the things I was feeling so many feelings about! Even though I had originally borrowed the book from the library, I ended up ordering it to have, because I am truly in love.

2. Black Girl Magic, Breakbeat Poets, Vol. 2

When I went to read this book I knew that it was not written for me. I expected there to be a lot in these poems that I had not experienced and that I could not relate to. However, I still wanted to read it because it would be sad to only read poems you could relate to. What I loved most about this anthology is that the topics and themes may be similar but each woman has her own voice. It felt like I was going through a cycle of emotions for each injustice. Anger, sadness, grief, hopelessness, and hope. Pride and shame, power and weakness. There was so much range and beauty in this collection. Also, Mahogany Browne is amazing. I am so fortunate to have been able to hear her read her poems live and sign my copy!

3. The Lonely Fajita by Abigail Mann

This was an ARC I received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion. I was really excited about this book. I love old people, I love stories about old people, I love stories about old people that surprise you. Unfortunately this book had a weird pace and a number of plot lines where it felt like I never got a chance to really get invested in any of it. Each plot line seemed to just skim the surface. I wish there was more of Annie and her story, or more of her and Elissa's relationship, or even more about Elissa getting through work stuff. By the time I was 80% done with the book I was concerned that so many of these plot points were going to conveniently get tied up in a rushed sort of way. Overall I would say this is a quick and easy read, but it definitely left me wanting more.

April: Sikh Heritage Month

4. Phulkari by Harman Kaur

I always say I’m not a fan of insta poets but less than a handful of times I've been surprised to find that I really enjoyed a collection of work. Phulkari is probably the second time that has happened. It's a beautiful book. The poems in this collection take you on a spiritual journey. A journey of healing. A journey to self love. There were so many poems in here that I bookmarked to go back to. If you're interested in seeing what stood out to me, you can check out all of my highlights from the book in the Bookfeed App! Follow me @jasbeingjas.

5. When You Ask Me Where I'm Going by Jasmin Kaur

This collection of poems covers a variety of issues, including domestic violence, toxic masculinity, and the immigrant experience. I don't have the words to explain why this collection of poems is great, I'm also not confident that I would do it justice as I'm not an expert in poetry. But I'm not alone in thinking it's great! When You Ask Me Where I'm Going was a Goodreads Choice Award Finalist in 2019!

6. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

This book wasn't exactly what I was expecting, and pieces of it seemed a little far fetched. But the story really draws you in, and the characters are wonderful. Even though I found Nikki annoying, especially in the beginning and less so as the book went on, she was never unbearable. The elements of thriller, mystery, and humor were also unexpected, but really enjoyable. My understanding is that this book is different from the others this author has written, including branching out into new genres and styles of writing. In which case, this is an even more incredible success in weaving together multiple genres.

7. Her Name is Kaur: Sikh American Women Write About Love, Courage, and Faith by Meeta Kaur

This is a great anthology. The women in this book share a variety of experiences and emotional journeys as it relates to love and Sikhi. The love they explore is not just romantic, but the love they have for family, friends, and their greater communities. The experiences as a collection shows all the different ways women find strength from this one source. It left me feeling a sense of connection with women I had never met.

Celebrating Women's History Month and Sikh Heritage Month felt lonely this year but celebrating through books has been a constant for me and I'm glad I managed to do that, even if I didn't get through as many books as I would have liked.

And to round out Spring, I read a bunch of books via book clubs and ARCs!

8. Megge of Bury Down by Rebecca Kightlinger

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. I really loved this book! I honestly think this could become my new favorite series, and definitely in my top 5 favorite series. It reminded me a lot of a book I read when I was younger that I loved, called Witch Child. This didn't have the same story or format, but I enjoyed the magic behind the more common story of women healers being accused of witchcraft. There were a lot of things that I would wonder and want to know more about, but the pace of the book, and the timing of things being revealed was perfect. I cannot wait for the second book in the series to come out. I went and followed the author on Goodreads before I even finished the book!

9. Persuasion by Jane Austen

This was a book club pick, but it's also been on my list forever because I love Jane Austen! As much as I think of myself as a fan, I also am embarrassed to admit I have not yet read all of her work. Persuasion felt so comforting. Reading it was like curling up in your favorite spot with a soft blanket and hot cup of tea.

10. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

This was another book club pick! Most of my girlfriends had this on their list too and with the show coming out, we wanted to get to is ASAP. I'm so glad I read this with a group because I had so many things I wanted to talk about! It was a roller coaster. I struggled with giving this four stars or five. Four, because there are things I need to know but don’t have the answers to. The book just ended and there were no more pages! But ultimately I decided that to give this four stars because of that would have been petty because it's an amazing read. The characters, the layers, the plot. All of it.

11. The Order of the Key by Justine Manzano

I received an advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This was a quick and fun read, only about 220-ish pages. I really liked the plot and the characters. The story was great and I really like the pace it was being told at. But the end seemed really sped up and abrupt, and I wish it had the same pace as the beginning of the book, even if it would have made it longer! Actually maybe more so, because it would have made the book longer! Hoping for a second book in the series that might expand on the ending a bit.

In addition to these books, I participated in two blog tours. One for The New Guy and one for Magical Intelligence. You can check out my full review for each!

Here's to hoping this turbulent Spring was only to usher in an even more relaxing Summer.

Happy Reading!

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