Books

Happy Haitian Flag Day!

Today is Haitian Flag Day! I’m a proud first generation Haitian-American woman, raised by proud Haitian parents. My parents left Haiti, to come to America and make a better life for my sister and I. Despite the move, they have always kept the Haitian culture alive within us from the language (Kreyol) to the delicious cuisine.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been trying even harder to learn more about the culture since I will have my own family soon enough. I want to make sure that whether they are completely Haitian or mixed, that they have a complete understanding of their culture. From January 1 which is Haitian Independence Day to May 18 Haitian Flag Day, I want them to understand and appreciate the sacrifices their ancestors made for them.

With that, I’ve decided to announce my next book up for review: Roxane Gay’s Ayiti. Be sure to check back for the review.

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Books

Talking As Fast As I Can

I don’t think there is any better book that I could have followed Born a Crime with than an equally as stunning and refreshing memoir by Lauren Graham– actress, writer, producer and all around effortless talent. Talking as Fast as I Can was witty, quirky and full of laughs. I often find it difficult separating the person: Lauren Graham from her roles as Lorelai Gilmore and Sarah Braverman, two of my favorite television characters. I had to stop myself, at times, and remember she is not the roles she has played, they have impacted her to some extent but she continues where their stories end.

It was truly interesting to learn more about Lauren Graham. I never knew about her struggle to stardom. Apart from learning that she was in a relationship with her former cast brother, Peter Krause (Adam Braverman), I didn’t know much about her. I think my favorite part of the story was the firsthand details that Graham recounted from previous seasons of Gilmore Girl. She also included her personal journal entries during Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. I think knowing how close of a relationship she built with her co-stars and crewmembers, returning for the final season was extremely emotional. It was incredible hearing about old memories and everyone being taken back into the nostalgia of the show the same way that audience members felt when they sat down to watch the long anticipated, A Year in the Life.

I remember growing up with Gilmore Girls and watching it constantly. At one point, when I realized that the last episode had aired, I refused to finish out the last season. I decided to wait until the inevitable tv movie aired to finally watch it all…only to learn that those months would turn to years. I binge-watched all the seasons on Netflix before the new season came on and had absolutely no regrets about it. The show honestly changed my life and made me aspire to have the Lorelai-Rory relationship with my future daughter. Their bond was unbreakable no matter what hiccups came along the way. I also agree 1000% with Lauren Graham about the final four words of the show being a cliffhanger! Is there going to be a Gilmore Girls Reloaded?! Or was this just a reminder that even if the show ends the Gilmore Girls live on in Stars Hollow!? Inquiring minds want to know.

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Books

~ The Valley of the Dolls ~

First, let’s start out with an R.I.P to Jacqueline Susann whom I had never heard of before a couple of months ago. I can confidently say that she is the author to one of my *new* favorite books, The Valley of the Dolls. This novel, originally published in 1966 was the biggest selling novel that year with over 31 million copies. Despite the novel being about 51 years old, the characters and storylines are still exceptionally relevant to modern day.

The novel follows three young women, Anne Welles, Jennifer North and Neely O’Hara who eventually become friends while pursuing their dreams of love, money and fame. Anne is a New England socialite desperate to leave behind her small town and find that all-consuming love and when she finally does, it threatens to crush her to pieces. She’s forced to make some life-altering decisions that beg her to question whether or not this is what she has truly wanted all along. Jennifer has only ever wanted to be loved for who she is, not her body. Finally, when happiness is within her grasp, she receives some devastating news that threatens to destroy everything she has. Lastly, Neely, young and eager for the chance at fame and fortune becomes an incredible talent and finds herself slipping down the rabbit hole of fame and forcing her to become someone she swore she wouldn’t. What I truly admire about Susann’s debut novel is that instead of each character’s life coming together and concluding in a perfect bow, things are still left open and unresolved. Not to give too much away but each character seems to ascertain what they spent their whole lives waiting for but not without a fair share of sacrifices and negative consequences.

The Valley of the Dolls is a timeless classic that I would definitely recommend to women’s fiction readers. I also think that readers in their mid-20s who were also fans of Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars and those stories will find interest in this 1960s tale of New York City fame. It’s glamorous and real and Susann really hit the mark on an lasting novel that I will proudly display on my shelf.

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Books

Bel Canto

I have just finished reading Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto. It was a beautiful read. It was unlike anything I have read before – from the plot to the narrative. I can’t say that I’m completely satisfied with how the book concludes but maybe after speaking with other people who have read it, my opinion will change.

I sincerely was blown away from the storyline. We are introduced to the multitude of characters: Mr. Hosokawa, Gen, Roxane Coss, Simon Thibault, Father Arguedas, Ruben Iglesias and etc. You jump around through their thoughts and how exactly they view the situation around them. The plot truly begins at the international party for Mr. Hosokawa’s birthday where  the famous opera singer, Roxane Coss, has been hired to perform as his gift. It is at this party that a terrorist group comes and holds the party hostage. The guests are held captive for months and much like any social experiment, learn to adapt to their current living situation. You see the initial terror of the hostage situation slowly decrease. Unintentionally, the guests of the party gone terribly wrong begin to surrender to their present circumstance. Rather than count the days until they are returned to their lives, they begin to accept their present situation as their lives. They all, whether they realized it or not, began to stop thinking of their past and discontinue thinking of their future. Even as the reader, despite logically knowing that a hostage situation has to end in either one way or the other, you hope against hope that things turn out in a way that everyone gets what they want. You hope that the romances built and developed in this terrible circumstances out of pure serendipity manage to last the test of time and the series of obstacles presented to them.

The major theme of the novel was opera. Even from the name meaning “beautiful song or beautiful singing,” you know that music will be the theme. Amongst all of the chaos and tragedy, opera proves to be the only shining beacon of hope throughout the book. Roxane’s voice manages to wash over the hostages and allow them to surrender their fears and worries. Through her voice and opera itself, they are all transported to a place of peace.

This book was a recommendation from a friend and it was a delightful read. Words cannot accurately describe the skill with which Patchett is able to provide insight from every character’s perspective without any awkward transitions and while showing all angles to a situation. I would recommend this book to all young readers, lovers of opera or music, or pretty much anyone.

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Books

Gone girl

Yay! I have officially read my first thriller/suspense novel, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. It was an amazing read. I think it may have been one of the first books within the suspense/thriller genre that I’ve read. I’m surprised I haven’t read more books in that genre given that it’s my favorite genre for film and television. It was thoroughly suspenseful and made it difficult at times to set the book down.

I was so captivated by the book. I had heard rumors about the books and had friends who read the book in previous years and highly recommended it. I’m so glad they did. Flynn does an effortless job of switching the narrative voice between the two main characters: Nick Dunne and Amy Elliott Dunne. Flynn intentionally feeds the reader bits and pieces of information in order to slowly guide your opinion on the two characters and what exactly the truth is. As you begin to formulate concrete opinions on the characters is when Flynn throws a twist to the reader that shatters all of their preconceived notions of the characters. It was what a plot twist should always be – original and completely unexpected. I love that Flynn chooses to make the narrators write and appeal to the reader as a third party weighing in on the circumstances at hand. She has an uncanny handle on the full complexities of her characters to the point that they could be real people. It’s flawless. I’m disappointed that it took me this long to read this book but it was an enjoyable read and has definitely jumped onto a list of some of my favorite authors. I am now adding the rest of Flynn’s books to my list of must-reads. I would definitely recommend this book for any and all readers.

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