2019: Week 21 Reading Roundup

Sunday.May.19 – Saturday.May.25

AKA: Honor a veteran and remember the sacrifice of those no longer with us ❤


The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

​A quick audiobook listen. Written in verse, the book is an incredibly relatable story of Xiomara, a teen girl in New York. The hype is real! [5*]

Travels With Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

​Steinbeck and his dog, Charley, embarked on a cross-country trip across America. It’s beautifully perceptive. [3.5*]

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (read by Philip Franklin)

​A cautionary tale. At least, that’s the way I choose to interpret it. A young man wanders off to the Alaskan wild. Months later his emaciated body is found by a hunter. What happened, and why did he leave everything behind? [3.5*]

Native Son by Richard Wright

​Societal critique with overt Communist ideals. It’s graphic and harrowing. This book is a lot. [3.5*]

In at the Deep End by Kate Davies

​Sexually explicit, but oh so good haha! [RTC]


The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

Currently 42% through the audiobook. It’s, um, interesting. 


I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan

I need a horror book in my life right now haha


Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Won this in a Goodreads Giveaway! I waited almost 2 months for this book to arrive. Can’t wait to finally read it! 


Let’s Get Personal: Mental Health Month


Audiobooks: True Crime Edition

I’ve been on a bit of a true crime kick after reading Columbine by Dave Cullen. The following audiobooks deal with a different crime. They’re all informative in their own way. 

A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold

Sue Klebold is the mother of one of the Columbine shooters. After reading Dave Cullen’s book, I was interested in what she had to say.  

I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Sue Klebold herself. It’s always an interesting experience when a writer narrates their own work. The nuances of their words and expressions obviously come through a lot better. It’s like having a conversation with someone. 

Now with all that being said, Sue Klebold’s book is extremely heartbreaking. You feel her pain, confusion, and betrayal. It oozes out of her words. She was blindsided. Completely blindsided. And it’s something that she continues to grapple with. Trying to reconcile the image she had of her bright, loving son with the massacre he committed. 

Depression and suicide are heavily covered in the book. As something that I struggle with, I found this to be insightful and relatable. You know, one of the first questions they asked me when I was in the hospital was “are you a danger to others?”. I answered truthfully: no, I was only a danger to myself. Her son was an undiagnosed suicidal depressant. I’m not saying it’s an excuse for what he did. It absolutely is not. But I do understand his pain. Because I’ve been there. And sometimes I’m still there. 

Anyway. Back to the book. Sue Klebold loved her son. She did her best (as any good mother tries to do). She was blindsided. And now she’s trying to understand. It’s a heartbreaking, enlightening read. 

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer 

Krakauer states that he first thought of writing this book as a way to learn more about Mormons. Which is fair. The thing is, this book is less about Mormons and more about its extremists.

There’s a difference between Latter Day Saints and Fundamentalists. Something that is touched upon when going into the history of the Mormon faith. And this book focuses more on the Fundamentalists. 

It’s a fairly interesting book. It has true crime aspects as it discusses murders committed by members of a Fundamentalist sect. The perpetrators claim it was divinely ordained. At its core, this book is about American religious extremism. 

My Story by Elizabeth Smart with Chris Stewart

Elizabeth Smart recounts her traumatic kidnapping and rape by a Mormon Fundamentalist.

Sigh. Look, her story is harrowing. But I have to be completely honest. This is one of the worst audiobooks I’ve ever listened to. And by this point I’ve listened to a lot. Yes, I feel really uncomfortable stating this.

Elizabeth Smart narrates the book herself. Within 10 minutes I knew this was going to be a difficult listen. But I stuck it out because I hoped it would get better. It didn’t. I’ve seen Elizabeth give interviews on TV over the years. She’s always calm and articulate. Not in this book. It actually didn’t sound like her. It was childish. I wonder how much of this book she actually wrote herself.

The narration aside, the writing was also terrible. “I was just a little girl“, “I was just a little girl“, “I was just a little girl“. The phrase was pounded into my head. Why the repetition? I already felt for her. And why that specific phrase? Because little girl is what I call my 3 year old goddaughter. Not a 14 year old teen. Semantics, ya’ll.

This is Elizabeth’s story. It’s disturbing and like I said, I feel for her. I really do. But this book was not great. There are a lot of other things that bothered me which I won’t go into. Because I already feel icky about kind of tearing this book apart. Do I recommend it? Nope. Watch her interviews instead.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

An in-depth look at McNamara’s investigation into the East Area Rapist.

While listening to the audiobook, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Michelle McNamara felt familiar. Then it clicked. She was a modern day Nancy Drew! She saw an investigation that had run cold years before and she set out to solve it. An amateur detective if there ever was one. 

There was a lot of detail into how she went about searching for clues and following up on leads. How her every thought turned to the case. What avenues of thought needed to be pursued. She was obsessed with the mystery. 

It’s unfortunate that Michelle didn’t live to see the capture of the alleged Golden State Killer. How DNA turned out to be the game-changer (just as she had perceived). An interesting read, for sure.

Molly’s Game by Molly Bloom

Molly was 26 years old when she became a poker princess. Not because she was a remarkable player, but because she was a good game organizer. 

This book has been on my radar for a long time. I think I read an excerpt of it in a magazine? Anyway, that small excerpt made me see Tobey Maguire differently. This book solidified that.

Molly kind of fell into the poker world. She was new to LA and her boss basically ordered her to be a part of it. The rest is history. She knew she was walking a legal tightrope. The book actually ends with her legal troubles yet unresolved. 

Hm. It was certainly an entertaining read. So many name drops. I haven’t watched the film adaptation but I imagine you get the juicier parts of the book. Probably easier to go that route. 

A Book About a Problem Facing Society Today

I tried to narrow this down to one problem. But I couldn’t. I simply couldn’t. Our society has one too many issues. And these books do a good job of sparking a discussion.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

What can I say about this book that hasn’t been said before? This is an incredibly powerful book. My top read this year. No doubt about it. The hype is legit with this one.

Starr is an African-American teen from “the ghetto” attending a predominantly white private school. One night, her best friend is murdered by a cop right before her eyes. What ensues, is heartbreakingly real and poignant.

This book is real. Cannot stress that enough. I cried, I laughed, I was angered, I reminisced and I cried again. Look, I grew up in the hood. And I felt this novel perfectly encapsulated that part of my life.

All I know, is that if I were to fall victim to a crime today, my name and reputation would probably be dragged through the mud because I lived in the projects and may therefore have “possible gang affiliations”. Despite the fact that I live in the suburbs, graduated from a decent university and have a steady job. But in today’s America, those details get lost as soon as someone’s skin color is seen.  

My review of The Autobiography of Malcolm X


Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer

A look at the prevalent number of alleged campus rapes/sexual assaults in Missoula, Montana by college athletes. The book presents interviews with the victims and the accused and their parents, friends, etc. It is an in-depth look at certain cases, some that made headlines. 

Wow wow wow. A myriad of emotions. I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by Mozhan Marno and every morning I was upset. I’ve always been on the “believe the victim” side (I’ve known people who were roofied, sexually assaulted and raped). So to listen to these young women in the book go through what they did in detail. It was a lot. My blood boiled. And it scared the shit out of me. At the end of the day though, it didn’t really surprise me. That’s the heartbreaking part. That I knew justice wouldn’t be served in these cases. In one instance, it actually is. It shocked me and I cheered and cried. Why? This shouldn’t be something out of the norm. But, it is. 

The way the prosecutors and detectives went out of their way to help the accused football players makes me see red. Seriously Kirsten Pabst?! She was in charge of one of the cases but refused to file charges. She then resigned, her boss decided to file charges, so she joined the guy’s defense team! I mean, what kind of bullshit is that?! 

And the trials themselves! Good Lord! You confess to rape and still deserve a lenient sentence because you’re a good person? The fuck?! NO! Raping “your little sister” proves otherwise! “I have suffered enough and have a bright future”. Excuse me?! You’re the one that raped someone and have caused years of emotional damage. Do not play victim when YOU have committed a crime. 

Reason #37293629 why I don’t trust the justice system. I am a woman and if I were the victim of sexual assault I wouldn’t get Oliva Benson or Eliot Stabler. I’d get some asshole that would blame me for falling asleep in a friend’s house in the first place. How dare I expect people to act like decent human beings? Haha, silly me. 


Columbine by Dave Cullen

An in-depth look at the school shooting that rocked the United States. This book is written by one of the many journalists that initially covered the massacre. My one pet peeve: the writing format. Bounced back between something that happened pre-massacre to one of the survivors. It seemed a bit unstructured to me.

I remember life before Columbine. After? Big changes. My sister was in high school and my mom worried about her constantly. I went from having regular earthquake/fire drills in school to active shooter/lockdown drills. Although to be completely transparent, my elementary school was in a rough neighborhood and we had drive-by drills. Um, yeah. 

Look, I don’t know what the root of these incidents is. Gun control? Mental health? Bullying? I honestly, have no clue. One of the Columbine killers was a psychopath, the other was severely depressed. So again, I don’t know. I do know that whatever is driving this phenomenon has gone on too long. 

I thought after Sandy Hook some kind of change would occur. Those babies were slaughtered. Yet, nothing happened. Sending your kids to school shouldn’t be a daunting task. 

Here’s a loose list of mass shootings that have happened in the last 20 years. Full disclosure: my alma mater is on the list. (Sort of). IV ❤ 

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

Prompt: a book about a problem facing society today

Challenge Update: 44/50