Review: An Unkindness of Ghosts

In An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Solomon crafted a world centered around a young scientist named, Aster Grey. She lives on a multi-level spacecraft called HSS Matilda, in a society that functions like the American South, pre-Civil War. Amidst the systemic violence that occurs between the ships’ leadership and the lowdeck residents, Aster struggles to understand her deceased mother, Lune Grey. Grey is believed to have killed herself shortly after Aster was born. What Aster learned in her attempts to find her mother in the work she left behind was a way to change the course of her life and the lives of those around her.

If the synopsis doesn’t pull you in, take a look at the stunning cover. Absolutely captivating.

What I love the most about An Unkindness of Ghosts is that it’s so rich and complex. A person’s proximity to safety and wealth in the Matilda is not just dictated by the color of their skin, but their gender identity and expression, religious beliefs, and social relationships as well. Furthermore, the character relationships are full of angst and possibility. Aster is brilliant, but she knowingly struggles to express her affections towards her friends and family in a socially appropriate manner. As the reader, you have to navigate the tension between the importance of human connection and the dangers that are woven into the plot.

This book features a lot of science. (Yes, I know it’s a science fiction novel.) The level of detail speaks to Solomon’s ability to build a distinct world for her characters. However, sometimes I wasn’t sure what it all meant. This language was very much present in Lune’s journals. Even though Aster and Giselle, one of Aster’s closest friends, worked together to decipher Lune’s work, I had to re-read passages to keep up. Further, as the number of characters Aster interacted with increased, I had to remind myself a few times what her goal was so I didn’t become too invested in subplots.

Overall, I strongly recommend this book.

Sunday Evening Reads

There’s been a lot of baking, writing, and reading this weekend. I’m currently making my way through Exit West by Mohsin Hamid and What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah. Admittedly, the time has gotten away from me, so here’s an evening edition of “Sunday Morning Reads.”

My creative writing class has started and I’ve been thinking critically about what makes a good story. Coincidentally, Literary Hub shared a collection of insight from Jamaica Kincaid on living and writing.

I’m a huge fan of Roxane Gay and inhaled her short story collection, Difficult Women. (If you haven’t read it, yet, definitely add it to your Goodreads “To Read” list!) Gay chatted with Ms. about Twitter, feminism, likability, and more. Read the full interview here.

Speaking of must-reads, summer is nearly upon us. It’s time to get the beach reads ready. If you’re feeling a little nervous about what books to bring with you, here are 7 Reasons You Should Never Feel Guilty About What You Enjoy Reading, No Matter What Genre It Is from Bustle!

Drooling over Betty Liu‘s dumplings!

I had to miss out on National Doughnut Day, this year, and Adrianna Adarme’s “S’mores Doughnuts” post gave me serious FOMO.

Early lessons from the kitchen

Baking is my act of self-care. There are so many distractions in life, but with baking, I can focus on one thing for a period of time and create something delightful. I’ll admit that it hasn’t been all perfectly shaped cookies, so I figured I would share a few of the lessons I’ve picked up so far.

Read the recipe, repeatedly.

Seriously. I consider this part of my learning process. Even experienced bakers read recipes. Maybe one day I will experiment, but for now, it’s recipes for me!

Before you start baking

Use this as an opportunity to take inventory of the ingredients and tools you have. Are you running low on flour? Are all the necessary measuring cups clean? It’s a nuisance to discover something is missing while in the middle of baking. Reading the recipe in advance gives me a chance to figure out if I need to make substitutions or start baking sooner rather than later if the recipe has multiple parts.

During the baking process

I find checking the recipe every so often helps me stay on track. Some recipes also include tips to guide you through certain steps. Those can come in handy if you’re new to a cooking technique, like separating egg whites or proofing yeast.

Failing is a part of the process.

Sometimes things don’t work out even with a lot of planning. I’m still getting used to this and learning to laugh at it. You may be able to turn it all around if your mind isn’t already clouded with defeat.

Wash dishes as you go.

Cleaning up after baking is my least favorite thing to do. As a result, I wash dishes as I work through a recipe. This allows me to reuse dishes while baking and in the end; my tiny sink isn’t crowded with dishes. Now with the cleanup process under control, I can spend more time blogging.

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?

I’m excited that Whatever Happened to Interracial Love, a short story collection about race and love by Kathleen Collins, is the first book that I will feature on Storied Eats. This book is officially one of my favorites. Each story is rife with a longing that is unique to every character.

The collection’s title story, “Whatever Happened to Interracial Love” is one of my favorites. The reader follows a young interracial couple as they struggle to challenge Jim Crow and protect their relationship against societal pressures. Their parents are always present and struggling with balancing their children’s happiness and orchestrating opportunities for their children’s security.

“Togetherness came back in style. People got along for a while. Inside the melting pot.” — Kathleen Collins

The tension between parental expectations and reality appears a number of times in the book. As well as depictions of new and dying love, isolation, and self-discovery.

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love inspired me to bake Smitten Kitchen’s Double Chocolate Banana Bread. Though it took me a long time to choose a “flavor,” I knew I wanted to make bread because of its shareable quality. Very much like the experience of finding love. Adding cocoa and chocolate chips to the mix was a delightful twist. Similar to how Collins plays with the format of the stories. In fact, she brilliantly uses light as a narrator in “Exteriors.”

 

Macaroons for Mother’s Day

This was the first Mother’s Day since childhood that I planned to present my mother with baked goods a way to celebrate her awesomeness. Of course, there were one-off attempts through the years — like the ill-fated eclairs — but that’s for another post. On this occasion, I decided to make one of my mother’s favorite treats, coconut macaroons.

I know. It’s a long way from a bowl of cereal and dry toast.

Before this weekend I had not baked with coconut before, so I followed a recipe developed by The Kitchn. It was a pretty smooth experience. Thanks to many hours of binge-watching the Great British Baking Show, I confidently separated the egg whites from the egg yolks and toasted the shredded coconut like a pro! I was surprised by the slimy texture when it came time to shape the mixture into macaroons. But I guess there are worse feelings.

macaroons

My macaroons turned out slightly larger than usual, but the sizes can vary depending on a person’s preference. Just remember to adjust the baking time accordingly!

Coconut Macaroons

Of course, there were casualties. Lesson learned: always watch your oven!

failed_macaroons

Sunday Morning Reads

Good morning and welcome to the first installment of “Sunday Morning Reads.” In a perfect world, my Sunday mornings would be completely dedicated to reading. It doesn’t always work out that way, but occasionally I’m able to sit down and read through the many pieces I’ve bookmarked throughout the week. “Sunday Morning Reads” is an opportunity for me to share a selection of those pieces with you, the reader. I hope you enjoy.

In a little over a month, I’ll be taking my first creative writing class since college. While thinking about my decision and how long it had been since I had written for myself, I remembered Elif Shafak’s Ted Talk, “The Politics of Fiction.” Below is one of my favorite moments from the talk.

Stories cannot demolish frontiers, but they can punch holes in our mental walls. And through those holes, we can get a glimpse of the other, and sometimes even like what we see. — Elif Shafak

Currently making my way through this amazing roundup of articles about the late Prince curated by Buzzfeed culture writer Doree Shafrir.  

I read “My Boyfriend Weighs Less Than I Do” by Ashley Ford almost a month ago and still think about it. It’s a beautiful and honest reflection on the love she has for herself and the love she shares with her partner, Kelly.

I recently listened to Erica Williams Simon interview with“filmmaker, writer, and organizer from Detroit,” dream hampton during the latest podcast episode of The Call. Topics range from her love of Detroit, being unafraid, writing, and finding new dreams.   

I’ve been following Alexandra Elle on Instagram for a few months and I look forward to her daily affirmations on self-forgiveness, self-love, happiness, and growth. She recently shared “Fools Have Wings,” a poem from her book Neon Soul and it’s a great message to start the week with.