Book as Refuge: What I Read During the Pandemic

“Indeed, who has a greater right to public respect than the man of color fighting for freedom after having experienced all the horrors of slavery? To equal the most celebrated warriors he need only keep in mind all the evils he has suffered.”
― Tom Reiss, the Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

I know it’s been some time since I last posted anything, and I am truly sorry for my disappearance. Towards the end of last year, work was both chaotic and stressful which led me into a massive reading slump. However, right when things started to calm down, the world stopped due to the Coronavirus. Like everyone else, I was a bit nervous and scared about this pandemic. Standing in long lines at grocery stores, being holed up at home, and receiving devastating updates from news outlets all had me craving for some kind of diversion from the unfolding crisis. And like a true bibliophile, I turned to books as my refuge during these trying times. To my amazement, I’ve read a total of five books last month! Now, I know that’s not an impressive number, but if you’re a slow reader like myself, you’ll agree that this is a colossal achievement. With that being said, here are the books that have kept me sane during this time, along with a brief review:

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory — This book was not for me. I didn’t enjoy it one bit. The plot was OK but the execution was very cliche. The characters were annoying and the romance felt cheesy and rushed. I normally don’t DNF a book — a bookish terminology which means Did Not Finish — and because I bought this book with my own money, I owed it to myself to finish reading it no matter how boring the story was.

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter — This book should have been featured above as the second novel to the right but I grabbed the wrong publication for this photo. Oops. Anyway, this book was fantastic! Absolutely moving! I normally avoid any holocaust novels because I just can’t stomach the horrific truth. However, I accidentally purchased this book without reading the synopsis, thinking it was a romance novel. However, I am so glad that I obtained this amazing book! The author was inspired to write this incredible true story of a Jewish family that got separated at the start of World War II. Finding out more about what the Jewish community really went through in order to survive shocked me to my core. This book made me cry, laugh, and cry even more.

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss — They say that sometimes the best story is a true story and this was the case for this read! I think the reason why I appreciated this book so much was that the author had to explain the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution, and the rise of Napoleon in France in order to tell the story of Alexander Dumas. With all of these surrounding historical facts, I am in awe of the author’s ability to provide a richly detailed, highly researched, and completely absorbing novel without disrupting the story of the forgotten hero Alexander Dumas. I will definitely be reading more from Reiss.

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Abid Khorram — This was absolutely lovely—a touching coming-of-age story about a Persian-American boy taking his first trip to Iran to visit his dying grandfather. The characters felt so real, especially Darius himself, and the relationships between the different family members were so nuanced and relatable. I particularly liked Darius’s complex relationship with his father and seeing how depression had affected both of them. I loved how much I learned about Iran from it, too, and all the descriptions of food were amazing!

The Fire Keeper (Book 2) by C.J. Cervantes — To be completely honest, I wasn’t a fan of this sequel. The first book, The Storm Runner, was a fantastic read. The plot was well structured, the characters were easily loveable, and the story had a strong theme throughout the book. With such a strong first book, I was looking forward to reading this novel. However, I was slightly disappointed. I felt like the story didn’t have a strong theme like before. In the first book, Zane was battling with the false idea that he wasn’t good enough due to his disability. Nevertheless, throughout his adventures, he learns that he is, in fact, strong and fully capable of accomplishing anything despite his limitations. In this book, I didn’t get that. The story was boring for the most part. I also didn’t like how his friends weren’t around as much throughout his adventures. Overall, I think the book was an okay read, but I wasn’t invested in the storyline. I hope the third book will bring back some of those magical experiences from the first.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance: Legacy of Orisha (Book 2) by Tomi Adeyemi — Words cannot express how much I am loving this series! Tomi Adeyemi is my black version of J.K. Rowling! Let me lift the veil for you! The characters were so complex and completely developed so much so that you almost felt like you knew them. In the first book, I fell in love with these characters but in this sequel, Adeyemi had you questioning everyone—even your favorite character! The story was well written with an abundance of rich details and the ending left a hole in my heart. I am still reeling from the shock.

Although some of my reads weren’t all that exciting or enjoyable, these books have helped me to remain positive during this pandemic. If you have read one of these books, be sure to share your thoughts with me in the comment section below.

As always, thanks for stopping by, and happy reading!

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