What I Read on Vacation

What I Read on Vacation

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I’m Vanessa, one of the contributing editors
at book riot. And I am back from Cuba. It was so much fun. I promise this is
one of the last times you’ll have to hear about this. Yeah, I took a cruise, I
think I mentioned a couple weeks ago, that was partly spent in Cuba and partly
spent in the Bahamas. I danced, I ate, I drank, I got sunburned and a little tan
by my little standards anyway. um But I am now peeling so we’ll see where that
goes. I was able to get a lot more reading done than I thought. Cause I think
I mentioned in the video a couple weeks ago, I am notoriously terrible at packing
like double or triple the amount of books that anyone would need on that
vacation. So I always have this really skewed idea of like how much time I’m gonna
spend with a book in my hands or with ear buds in my ears. But I got a lot
more done than I thought even though I did like zero reading on planes.
I took a red-eye on the way out. So I’m sleepy. And the way back my flight kept getting
delayed and the gate was changed. Anyway, most of the reading that I got
done was by a body of wate,r whether that was a pool, beautiful sandy beach.
Yeah, there was a lot of time to relax and do my favorite thing, just to read
with a cold drink in my hand. So yeah, I’m gonna talk about some of the reading
that I got done and tell you the things that I really, really liked. So the first
book that I took with me is a book riot favorite and I’m finally getting to
finish because I started it and read the first like 20 pages a long time ago and
then just like it never circled back to it because I was so busy with other
projects. But finally read my sister the serial killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite.
It is every bit worth the hype. This is about two sisters,
Korede and Ayola. Korede is the sort of plain looking, smart, brainy sister who
you know is educated and she’s a nurse at a hospital.
Ayola is her beautiful, glamorous, really kind of flighty and very selfish sister
who has always gotten by on her looks and on her body and you know her
physical appearance. And so these two sisters have a really interesting
dynamic in that Korede’s clearly very jealous of her sister and wants to like
ring her neck half the time because of her really just like silly behavior. But
she’s also her sister and there’s but that you know “blood is thicker than
water” thing going on. Which is really, really interesting given that Ayola has
this like supes annoying habit of killing her boyfriends and then calling
Korede to come help her clean up the mess. The murder is definitely, you know,
it drives part of the plot here because Korede is constantly having
to clean up after her sister who sort of seems to get over the killings
really quickly. I mean, like, but like what’s the big deal? And things hit like
a new just like a point of annoyance when Ayola decides right after killing
off one of her dudes to start dating Korede’s crush at the hospital where she
works. It is such like a character study about like this complicated relationship
between the two sisters. And the end, I was just like, girl, no. It’s, oh my
god it’s so good. It’s a really, really quick read. You will blast through this
in just a couple of hours if you have the time like I did by a pool. So glad I
finally got to it. You should get to it, too. The next book I want to talk about
is one that I technically finished before I went on my vacation but I was
intending to read it on a vacation. And I really liked it and also just want to
talk a little bit about the audio with y’all. So I’m gonna bring it up anyway.
There are no rules here. So that book is Nocturna by Maya Motayne. I hope I’m
saying that correctly. Motay or Motayne. It is narrated by Kyla Garcia on
audio. The book is really, really interesting. I was so jazzed about it
before I’d even read a single page because it is a latinx-inspired fantasy and the first in a trilogy. So the story is about a prince
named Al Fayed, nicknamed Alfie, who is mourning the loss of his brother Dez. Dez
was taken from his family in an attempted coup that went awry. It wasn’t
successful in so far as the coup part but his brother was taken by a woman
with some very dark magic. Everyone but Alfie has accepted that Dez is dead. But
he believes that because this, you know, woman with these dark powers sort of
threw him into like a magical void that he must still be back behind that void
alive but you know just more kidnapped than dead. And so his entire like life’s
quest now his obsession is with finding a type of magic that will allow him to get beyond that void as well and to bring
Dez back. That ends up putting him into pretty precarious situations because
again he’s kind of having to employ some dark magic to be able to get behind that
realm. And he bumps into, at a very high stakes card game without knowing it, a
thief named Finn who grew up on the outskirts of the city.
Her parents abandoned her, so she thinks. Keep reading. So she’s kind of had to get
by just on what the skill set that she possesses, which is the ability to do two
things: be a really, really great thief, and something that helps her in that
thievery is to faceshift. Like she with her, you know limited magical ability can
do one really awesome thing and that is to completely change her appearance, look
like that of somebody else at any given time. So much so that she doesn’t even
really remember what like she looks like. So these two kind of get thrown together
you know unwittingly in this interesting situation and they both end up on this
quest to get Dez back. Which is really complicated when Alfie takes things like
one step too far in trying to protect his cousin as well, who’s a really, really
great character like on the side that I really enjoyed. He’s very funny. But when
he goes to do this and to like save his cousin’s life, when they’re under attack,
he unleashes this ancient evil that is about to just destroy the universe if he
doesn’t find a way to curtail it and to destroy it essentially. The imagery is
awesome, the colors, the types of magic, I love that the spoken magic that they do
is all in Spanish. So through you know hear words like, para or id or
lots of different Spanish words that I’m for whatever reason having a hard time
coming up with right now. But it is really, really great. It’s such– I’m so excited it’s a trilogy. It has all the things that I
like: Latinx representation, a lot of spanish-language stuff, it’s a fantasy
and it’s really compelling. It’s fantastic. My only like hang-up, and I
want to know how you guys feel about this, is that I listen to it on audio and
there’s no shade on Kyla Garcia. She did a fantastic job. But I found myself–
there’s a lot of kind of emotional moments especially towards the end of
the book that I really felt like should have just like hit me in the chest that
I was just like oh that’s sad. But I feel like if I’d been
reading it, it would have felt so much more momentous. But I can’t say that this
is the case with all fiction because I’m thinking back to the narrator of like
the Angie Thomas books. Man when she narrates, like she commits to the passion
and the emotion of the thing that she’s reading and she has made me cry in my
car more than once. So again, this is no disrespect to Kyla,
her narration was just a little more quiet at times. And I don’t know if
that’s what it was or if it’s just the text itself. I don’t know. I just I felt
like what I was listening to was something that I should have had a much
stronger reaction to and that I would have if I had been just reading the
words and kind of hearing them in my own head. I don’t know. It is still really
great. I do think I will do a little experiment and try the second one
whenever it comes out in print just to see how I feel. I do still think it’s
super worth reading. You should try it on audio. I might just be crazy. But either
way, give it a shot. I think it’s really cool and I can’t wait for the next two
weeks to come out. Another one that I did on audio that I am so obsessed with, so,
so obsessed with, is Ruth Reichl’s latest memoir. It’s called save me the plums. Oh, if
you don’t know who Ruth Reichl is, she is a foodie goddess. She’s very famous for
having been a food critic. She was the food writer and critic for the LA Times at
one point, for the New York Times where she really kind of made her career. And that
was the stepping stone that took her to what she’s perhaps most famously known
and that is for having taken over and really revamped and redirected the
course of Gourmet magazine. The very beginning of the book opens with her
discussion of how she first came to Gourmet magazine when she was a kid and
how she was so kind of enamored and enraptured by the food writing and how
she kind of found her calling you know pretty young in life. But this particular
memoir really does focus a lot on her time at gourmet, the decision-making
process that went into taking the job, her trepidations about whether or not
she felt qualified enough, a lot of discussion of what it was like to be a
mom and wife trying to balance this like really demanding career in a time where
you know all the childbearing responsibilities and sort of domestic
stuff always seemed to fall on the woman. I mean it’s getting better but I don’t
know that we’re like really out of those woods yet.
On top of all these fantastic issues that she discusses, there is clearly a
lot of food at the heart of this memoir. And the way she writes about food, I mean,
she was pretty famous for doing it. People pay her to do it.
It’s just nothing short of perfection. The way she talks about like the garlic
and the vibrant powerful flavors in a bowl of spicy noodles that she whips up
for her son as a late-night snack to like the pillowy cloud-like texture of a
wine simmered foie gras. Like this, oh my god, like as I was like listening to this
both on the drive to the airport and then while I was sitting around you know
by on a sandy beach I was just like I’m so hungry.
Someone feed me. She’s fantastic. She knows how to wield the English
language and to make it you know beautiful and eloquent in the discussion
of this sort of you know unifying thing that is was cuisine. So if you haven’t read
her before, this is a great time to do so. She’s just so wonderful and again this
thing will make you super hungry. I love it on audio because she narrates it but
I will say one side thing about it is that she does give the recipes to so
many of these fantastic foods that she talks about. And, you know, hearing them
quickly narrated to you may or may not work if you’re actually intending to
cook these recipes. I do have a galley of it in print somewhere that I’m gonna
have to nab and like put away for when I feel like making this you know decadent
chocolate cake with a mascarpone cream frosting and praline topping. Oh yeah, the
print I think would work better for that part. But, again, such a great
experience with audio I think it’s so worth your time. I did actually get two more
books done but I’m running out of time today. So maybe I’ll talk about those
another time. Those are just the three of the I guess top faves that I ran into
this time around on my vacation. I feel refreshed and ready to go. It was just
like a well well timed trip and I’m so glad that I was able to do a lot of
just like pleasure reading for the first time in a really long time. Thanks so
much for watching. I’ll see you next week.

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4 Comments

  1. I just finished Plums and couldn't agree with you more! I loved the way she would lead you down the path of spilling some tea on a famous person being a jerk and then she'd completely turn it around and talk about how lovely they were. She is humble and funny and a terrific writer! Now onto My Sister Is A Serial Killer, thanks for the recommendation! 📚🤓

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