Book Reviews

Book Review – The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

 

The Testing

The Testing is basically the lovechild of The Hunger Games and Divergent. However, in my opinion, this one seems a bit more plausible than either series. Colleges and universities are already competitive so why not make applicants duke it out to win a FREE spot. Shoot, I’d take it. If there was more than one university in this futuristic version of America, it’d be even more believable.

Our main character, Malencia (Cia) Vale, really wants to go to university in the Capitol…I mean, Tosu City, which is indeed the Capitol of the United Commonwealth, and the only way to do that is to have students selected to participate in The Testing. Not only did they have the vastly normal standardized tests (which I’ve always hated), but there’s also hands-on experiments, group work (which again I hated), and a seven-hundred mile trek through a war-torn, poisonous landscape. Yeah, that escalated pretty quickly.

Even though I did think that the premise is plausible, the book was just okay. I really liked the beginning that covered Cia’s graduation, nervousness about whether she’d be accepted for the Testing, being accepted and then meeting other Testing candidates. I also really liked the way the first three tests were done. They were “normal” with definite catches. There were some casualties over the course of these, and I do have to mention a suicide does take place within this book. It was shocking and disturbing.

The fourth test, for me, lost all plausibility. It was basically The Hunger Games and took up at least half of the novel. Not only did Cia and her love interest have to find each other and then survive in the wilderness, but they additionally had to face other candidates who wanted to kill off the competition. I would have liked the novel so much better if the fourth test could have consisted of literally ANYTHING else.

Also, some of the characters I felt were entirely one-dimensional…namely Cia. We knew she was smart because she was selected for The Testing and that she was close to her family, but that was about it. She just had no personality, likes beyond her love interest, or dislikes. I couldn’t even manage to put a face to her. The “empty” protagonist works in other novels (i.e the Hunger Games again) because in other dystopians, the citizens aren’t supposed to have a personality because their identities have been basically stripped away. However, Cia is allowed to have a pretty great childhood. Many of the other Testing candidates, including Cia’s love interest, were much more distinctive.

Again, I thought The Testing was okay. Just…okay. Maybe I’ll continue with the rest of the series. I don’t know yet. I hope the next two books will be a bit more original though.

Rating: 3 stars

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Book Reviews

Book Review – Some Luck by Jane Smiley

Some Luck

The concept behind Some Luck by Jane Smiley was cute. Every chapter in the novel is a year from 1920-1953 and covers a few moments in the life of a farming family from a small town in Iowa. It starts when the eldest child is about a year old and ends when he is thirty-three. I understand that this novel could be boring for most people, but I liked it for what it was.

What I Liked:

It felt like I was a guest of the Langdon family as I hung out with the patriarchs of the family, Walter and Rosanna, their six children, Frank, Joe, Mary, Lillian, Henry, and finally baby Claire, and other extended family and friends. Through the novel we see each child grow up and into their own person. There were definitely some characters I liked better than others. Out of the Langdons, I really liked Frank and Lillian, and even Rosanna’s sister, the feisty and outspoken Eloise. If we had seen more of her (basically if she was the main character), she would have most likely been my favorite. I also like how some characters made questionable decisions, but this just made them that much more human.

The passage of time in the novel was again a really great concept. The novel covers the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, World War II, and the beginning of the Cold War all through the eyes of this one family. And we get to know them through how they react to these important moments in history.

What Was Meh:

Much of the beginning of the novel was about daily life on a farm. While I do respect those who farm and grew up on farms and stuff, whoo boy was this boring. There was chapter after chapter of talk about which crops grew better with which soil, and I almost fell asleep. The book didn’t truly get interesting until the children began to branch out and realize there was much more to life beyond their small farm.

Also, I felt some chapters just ended too abruptly. I’d be getting really involved with a character or a story line, and then next thing I knew, it’d be the end of the chapter. The novel itself actually ended this way after a HUGE moment, and even though I’m excited to move on to Book 2, I’m still sooooo mad.

Verdict:

I really did like this novel and I can’t wait to dive into Book 2, Early Warning. I’m rating this novel a 4, because even though I did like it, I did get pretty bored and I hope the chapters don’t go too fast in the next one.

 

Bookish Posts

2018 Reading Goals (You Can Do It!)

So, as I’ve said in my last post, I did not do as much reading as I usually do last year. There was a lot going on what with grad school, wedding planning, getting sick and not knowing what the heck is wrong with me, and other stressful things. However, while this year will probably be just as stressful (it’s wedding year!), there is one main difference: I have (finally) moved out of my very, very crowded house and into an apartment with my fiance. That being said, I have a lot more time to read! I also noticed that because I did not do a lot of reading last year, I was anxious a lot more of the time and became a bit of a cyberchondriac. I realized that reading is not only my favorite hobby, but also plays a huge role in helping me relax.

Anyway, sorry to get all psychological on you all. I’m usually more chipper than that!

happy sailor moon

I have quite a few reading goals of the year that I really hope to accomplish, and here they are:

  • Read (at least) 50 books, especially since I have so much time.
  • Read (at least) 5 classics.
    • I’ve especially wanted to read all of Jane Austen’s novels this year.
  • Finish 10 series/trilogies.
    • For a lot of these, all I literally have to do is finish one measly book or two. If only I didn’t have a fear of finishing series haha!
  • Read (at least) 5 chunksters (books over 500 pages).
  • Read 5 history/non-fiction books.
  • Read (at least) 1 diverse book a month.
  • Take part in at least 2 reading challenges in groups I’m in on Goodreads. I’ll link the challenges that I’m doing in case anyone wants to try them too!
  • Buy 1 book every 2 paychecks.
    • …Instead of, you know, buying 8 books with 1 paycheck…
  • Attempt to review EVERYTHING I read even if I have to do mini reviews.

Those are all of my reading goals for 2018. It seems like a lot, but I think I can handle it!

Do you have any reading goals for 2018? If you have any, comment with at least one of them.

Happy reading everyone!

Bookish Posts

2017 End of Year Book Survey

Today on this sweet, sweet snow day I’ll be filling out the 2017 End of Year Book Survey created by Jamie from Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner. I love this survey because it helps me see my entire year through books.

Number of books read: 34

Number of re-reads: 3

Genre You Read from the Most: Historical Fiction 

Best Book of 2017: Definitely The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This was such a powerful and just overall amazing read. 

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Book You Were Excited About and Thought you Would Love but Didn’t? I really wanted to like When Dimple Met Rishi, but the romance just sort of fell flat to me. If you liked it, then that’s awesome. Just wasn’t for me. 

When Dimple Met Rishi

Most Surprising (in a good or bad way) book you read? All We Have Left by Wendy Mills definitely surprised me…in a completely good way. It was an impulse buy, and I read it in only two hours because I was so engrossed in it. 
All We Have Left

Book You Pushed People to Read (And They Did) I didn’t really push anyone to read anything this year. 

Best Series Starter: Well…..this is easy.

 six of crows

Best Sequel:

Lair of Dreams

Best Series Ender: I did not read any series enders this year (unfortunately). Hopefully, I change this in 2018. 

Favorite New Author:

Adult: The Nightingale

Young Adult:

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Best book from a genre you don’t normally read? I don’t usually read poetry but I loved The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace. This poetry collection resonated very deeply with me and I highly recommend it. 

The Princess Saves Herself in This One

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book? Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. During the whole entire heist scene, I could NOT put the book down. I was so worried about my children {hugs them, even though Kaz tries to get away}

Book you read in 2017 that you are Most Likely to Re-read in 2018? A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I just received the entire trilogy from my fiance for Christmas, and I think I’m going to binge read the whole trilogy this year. I’ll also probably re-read Six of Crows before I read Crooked Kingdom, too. 

Favorite Cover of  a book you Read in 2017?

All We Have Left

Most Memorable Character? My baby son Kaz Brekker, Bastard of the Barrel from Six of Crows. Actually, all of the members of the Dregs hold a place in my heart. 

Most Beautifully Written Book of 2017? I’m going to have to go with The Nightingale. I really loved the prose. 

Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book of 2017? While the World Watched by Carolyn Maull McKinstry, who survived the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that killed four of her friends. This book was definitely one I will never forget. Reading about the survivor’s guilt McKinstry felt and probably still feels was gut-wrenching. I also thought a lot about how someone can hate so much that they could freely kill four little girls and not feel a shred of guilt. I am extremely happy to learn that justice was finally served. 

while the world watched

Book You Can’t Believe You Waited until 2017 to Read? Once again, The Nightingale. However, I had this one on hold for about two years, so it was well worth the wait. 

Favorite Passage/Quote from a Book Read in 2017?

“It’s also about Oscar. Aiyana. Trayvon. Rekia. Michael. Eric. Tamir. John. Ezell. Sandra. Freddie. Alton. Philando. It’s even about that little boy in 1955 who nobody recognized at first — Emmett. The messed-up part? There are so many more. Yet I know it’ll change one day…Why? Because there will always be someone ready to fight. Maybe it’s my turn.

The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas

Shortest Book You Read in 2017: Cast in Moonlight by Michelle Sagara(109 pgs)

Cast in Moonlight

Longest Book You Read in 2017: Winter of the World by Ken Follett (960 pgs)

Winter of the World

Book that Shocked You the Most: Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray. The plot twist at the end shook me. 

OTP of the Year? Definitely my babies Kaz/Inej from Six of Crows. I will go down with this ship. A special mention is also Starr/Chris from The Hate U Give. 

Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship: Lucien and Feyre from A Court of Thorns and Roses. I loved their banter. 

Court of Thorns and Roses

Favorite Book You Read in 2017 from an Author You’ve Read Previously:

Indigo

Newest Fictional Crush: Kaz effin’ Brekker. 

Best 2017 Debut? Once again…

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Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure? I guess I would have to say Six of Crows. So many of the Booktubers I watch gave it such high praise, so naturally I just had to pick it up. 

Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting? I love how Evelyn Skye used Russia as a magical setting for this one. 
the crown's game

Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

The Unexpected Everything

Book That Made You Cry/Nearly Made You Cry? The Hate U Give and While the World Watched

Hidden Gem of the Year? The Kiss of the Concubine by Judith Arnopp. It was a simple story about the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn. It wasn’t anything too special, but I enjoyed how it didn’t portray her as a harpy or a shrew. 

The Kiss of the Concubine

Books that Crushed your Soul in 2017?

wp-image--201855530The Nightingalewhile the world watched

Most Unique Book? Inherit Midnight by Katie Kae Myers. It was kind of like a cutthroat family version of Amazing Race, 39 Clues, and The Westing Game. I loved it. 

Inherit Midnight

Book that Made You the Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it): This book just gave me a LOT of feels….

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Newest favorite book blog you discovered in 2017? Thrice Read. I haven’t really been on WordPress enough to find more bookish blogs, but I really like this one and how they do reviews not only on their own, but with each other as well. It’s a fresh and cute idea. 

Favorite review you wrote in 2017? My review of Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey.

Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog? My favorite non-review post was the Things I Want to See More of In Literature post. I had a lot of fun doing it. 

Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? Unfortunately, I did not take part in any fun events and hopefully I will in 2018. 

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017? Well, actually remembering to blog and having time to blog is definitely at the top of my list 🙂

Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year? I got really sick this year and even now, I don’t exactly know what is wrong with me, but I have NOT had the motivation to do any reading or any blogging. However, I know that despite whatever is happening right now, I want to keep reading and sharing my thoughts. 

Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)? My book review of The Hate U Give. 

Post You Wished Got A Little More Love? I don’t really know. I guess Things I want to See More of In Literature post since it only got a couple views. 

Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? I’m soooo happy I discovered that there’s a whole world out there where people have bullet journals solely for reading. I found a few videos on YouTube that showcased people setting them up. I now have a bookish bullet journal of my own. 

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? Not exactly because of all the issues I’ve had this year, but I definitely plan to complete the goals I’ve set for myself this year. 

One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number One Priority in 2018?

The Way of Kings

Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?

Dread NationThe Radical Element

2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Children of Blood and Bone

Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018? I honestly can’t really say. I think I should probably focus on finishing the series that have been out since like 2006.

One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018? I’ll cover most of this in my reading goals of 2018 post. One thing I do really want to accomplish is to read A LOT more than I did in 2017.

A 2018 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone: I have not read any 2018 releases yet, but I definitely can’ wait to read them!

And there we have it. The 2017 End of Year Book Survey. My reading year in 2017 didn’t go so well, and hopefully, I’ll get a lot more reading done in 2018!

Happy New Year

 

 

Book Reviews, Bookish Posts

Book Review – A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott

a touch of stardust

Gone With the Wind is one of my favorite movies so naturally I had to grab this book since it focused on the making of the movie and the love story between Hollywood legends Carole Lombard and Clark Gable.

The novel follows our protagonist, Julie, a good girl from Indiana, who goes to Hollywood to be a famous screenwriter. Something women were not particularly known for yet. Through a couple of lucky breaks, Julie ends up becoming Carole Lombard’s personal assistant and best friend. While this was a bit far-fetched, I did suspend my belief and wasn’t too bothered by it. After all, who doesn’t wish they could be their favorite actor’s assistant? Julie achieved the dream.

What I Liked:
I LOVED the setting of 1930s Hollywood and seeing GWTW behind-the-scenes. There were a lot of little tidbits I didn’t know about. For example, it took a really long time to find a Scarlett and thousands of actresses read for the part before it was given to Vivien Leigh. I’ve seen some of those screen tests and it’s obvious that Leigh was the right one for the part. Also, Clark Gable was very much against segregation and demanded the bathrooms on the set be integrated. When it was known that GWTW’s African American actors would not be welcomed at the Atlanta premiere, Gable actually refused to attend and basically had to be bribed. He actually seems like a pretty chill dude. However, there is one scene where he uses a slur against the openly gay George Cukor, but I had to remember that this is the 1930s and people were not particularly as accepting of members of the LGBT community as we are now.

Carole Lombard was my favorite character. I’ve seen any of her movies, but she seems like she was an amazing person. There’s a scene where one of the production studios’ employees asks to keep a record of her menstrual cycle and she basically tells him to stuff it (in harsher words than that). Even though she at first seems like a jaded Hollywood veteran, she’s still optimistic about the world and her love for Clark.

What I thought was Meh:
I had a bit of a problem with the main character, Julie. She had absolutely no personality and was basically a conduit used to learn more about this world of Hollywood. She doesn’t really make any decisions for herself and does whatever Carole or her boyfriend, Andy, says. Through her, you do learn about how difficult it was as a woman trying to make her mark in Hollywood. There’s a scene where a man asks for sex in order to give her the job of her dreams. It’s disgusting and you definitely feel for her.

Also, the main love story between Julie and David Selznick’s assistant, Andy, really fell flat when parallel with the real story between Gable and Lombard and even the fictional one between Scarlett and Rhett. There was chemistry there but after reading about them arguing for the fifth time, their flame started to flicker. Also, many times Julie is left wondering why Andy is so distant and does not seem to understand he’s a Jewish man living in 1939 with relatives in Nazi Germany. Like obviously he has bigger things to worry about than when you’re going to spoon next, Julie. Ugh, I wanted to smack her with a newspaper and then make her read it.

Even though I didn’t enjoy the main character, A Touch of Stardust is an interesting story about making it in Hollywood. The scenes about making GWTW the iconic movie it is today is worth the read though.

Rating: 3 stars

Book Reviews

Book Review – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Disclaimer: If you believe Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Ezell Ford, Rekia Boyd, Sandra Bland, etc. deserved to be killed, kindly leave my blog and never come back. Kay, thanks…



Also, I have nothing against cops; in fact, my aunt’s a cop, and I respect the jobs they have to do and know that the good cops outweigh the bad ones. I do have something against cops who shoot first and ask questions later, are racist, or just are all-around shitty people.

The Hate U Give is an extremely powerful novel stemming from the Black Lives Matter Movement and multitude of cases where unarmed African American men, women, and children have been gunned down by (mostly) white police officers. It is a novel that needs to be read in today’s current political climate, especially by teenagers. The novel follows Starr Carter, a girl who feels she is straddling two worlds: her life in a not-so-great neighborhood where gangs run the streets and her predominantly white prep school. After leaving a party, Starr becomes the sole witness of the murder of her best friend, Khalil, at the hand of a white police officer.  Starr is the only one who is able to give the full story about what happened that night and there are some who don’t want that story told. 

What I Liked: 

ALL OF THE THINGS!

First, I love Angie Thomas’s prose and writing style: simple yet powerful. I also really love that Ms. Thomas used a lot of slang and even cuss words within the novel. It made the novel so much more authentic. I mean, people can be up in arms about there being cursing in YA novels all they want, but there’s no use pretending that teens don’t cuss. And this is coming from someone who said “What the fluffer-nutter!” until my junior year of college. 

The characters are just amazing, especially Starr, her parents, brothers, and other relatives. They were not perfect by any means, but their love and devotion for each other was solid. Starr’s father’s character arc is one we don’t normally see: an ex-gang member trying to redeem himself in the eyes of his wife, children, and community. The bond Starr has with him brought tears to my eyes on numerous occasions. 

Starr’s relationship with her boyfriend, Chris, was really cute. If there’s a sequel or companion novel, they still better be together.

I definitely side-eyed Starr’s friend, Hailey. She’s that type of friend that leaves you constantly cringing about whether what came out of her mouth might have been racist but to avoid drama you don’t say anything. I have definitely learned that when it comes to these types of so-called friends, you have put a lid on comments that offend you from the get-go or they’ll constantly think you’re okay with it. 

However, the cop that killed Khalil and the cops that tried to justify Khalil’s death especially bothered me.  Just because someone sells drugs does not mean they deserve to die! Especially not in cold blood. You see this again and again with these cases. Look at the Mike Brown case. They made him seem like a thug to make his death seem justified and it’s not fair. With Philando Castile, they said he was a monster because he smoked weed in front of his child but there was recently an article about “supermoms” who smoke weed. And don’t tell me it has nothing to do with race because it does but that’s a post for another day. 

The only thing I particularly didn’t like about the novel was King, the neighborhood drug lord. Ugh I wanted to slap him with a brick on every page he was on. 

I appreciated how realistic the verdict was, and understood why the author wrote the ending the way she did. 

There is honestly so much more I can say about this novel, but I have to say you have to read it for yourself. I am floored that it took me this long to read this. I firmly recommend The Hate U Give to everyone, especially African American teenagers. After all , the scene where Starr describes being talked to about what to do if stopped by a cop is a common staple in many homes, including mine. The problem is that it shouldn’t be. Ms. Thomas’s book is  a stunning one about police brutality and its consequences. 

Book Tags

2017 Mid Year Freak-Out Book Tag

Well, we’re 8 days into August and there’s only 5 months left of the year. Let me be the first person to say I absolutely cannot wait for 2018 to make its presence because I am hella over 2017.

bye felicia pocahontas

This year, I have been stressed to the breaking point what with my intense grad-school classes, intense wedding planning, health issues, and other personal issues. The only thing I’m regretting about 2017 is how little I’ve read so far this year. Despite that, I’m here to share with all of you the amazing books that I have managed to fit into my busy schedule through the Mid Year Freak-Out Book Tag. Here we go:

1. Best Book You’ve Read So Far: Definitely Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo! I so need to get my hands on Crooked Kingdom like now!

six of crows

2. Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far: Well, I haven’t exactly read any sequels yet but I will soon…eventually…

3. New Release You Haven’t Read Yet: There are soooo many, but number 1 on my list is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. A close second is Because You Hate to Love Me.

The Hate U Give

4. Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of 2015: It’s not my most anticipated read but I think I’ll like Blight by Alexandra Duncan. I haven’t finished her Salvage duology yet but I remember really liking it.

Blight Alexandra Duncan

5. Biggest Disappointment: The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin. I have been looking forward to reading this book for months, but I came to find Charles Lindbergh to be the most insufferable man to ever be brought to life in a historical fiction novel.

The Aviator's Wife

6. Biggest Surprise: I’m really surprised I liked A Court of Thorns and Roses as much as I did. But what can I say, I fell in love with Feyre and Tamlin.

Court of Thorns and Roses

7. Favorite New Author: Easily Leigh Bardugo! Again, Six of Crows has become my favorite book of the year and I LOVE her writing style.

8. Newest Fictional Crush: Nikolai from The Crown’s Game. I was floored by how the story ended and how much I found that I was rooting for Nikolai. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel to this one as well!

the crown's game

9. Newest Favorite Character: Inej from Six of Crows. She is my child and needs to be protected at all costs.

10. Book That Made You Cry: While the World Watched, a memoir by a woman who survived the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, AL. She watched her friends die in the worst way possible and lived with so much survivor’s guilt and depression. This was a hard read, but I’m extremely glad I read this one.

while the world watched

11. Book That Made You Happy: A Court of Thorns and Roses because it ended up (semi) happily and it gave me soooo many feels.

12. Most Beautiful Book You’ve Acquired: Because You Love to Hate Me. That book cover is gorgeous! I love the simplicity of the blue rose with the black ink spilling out of it against the purple background. Love it!

Because You Love to Hate Me

12. Books You Need To Read By the End of the Year:

  • Because You Love to Hate Me
  • The Chronicles of Elantra series
  • every Brandon Sanderson book ever
  • When Dimple Met Rishi
  • The English and Their History
  • The Next Together
  • The Gemma Doyle trilogy
  • more 2017 releases….

Well, there you have it, most of the books I have read (and want to read) in the year 2017. It seems like I finally have time to get some reading done this weekend so I fully plan to get to it!

 

 

Uncategorized

Why I Haven’t Been Around…

So, I haven’t posted anything in like a month even though I set a goal to post at least 5 blog posts a month. The reason why is solely because life has decided to hold me hostage. 

How, you ask? 

Oh, let me count the ways: 

1.) I’ll be in Virginia at Liberty University for two weeks in July because I have to take two intensive classes during the summer. Not only am I terrified because I’m about to be a black girl in Lynchburg, Virginia, but because I’m going to be 6 hours away from home. Also, I have at least 10 pre-class assignments per class to do before I leave.

2.) To piggyback off that, I’ve been studying for the Praxis exams because I’m taking four of them over the summer. Two of them are math related…Math and I are not good friends. And most of you book bloggers can probably relate!

3.) June is just a hella busy month. At the end of the month I will have attended a fashion show, church choir concert, a gender reveal cookout, 3 graduations, 3 graduation parties, and even though school is out, I still get no breaks from children because summer camp starts Monday. 

4.) Wedding planning! Though my wedding is next year, I’ve really started hardcore planning. I’ve already booked the church, reception hall, photographer, got our engagement photos taken, and most importantly, I found my dress!!!

Hopefully, I will be back to posting (and reading) soon!

Bookish Posts

Things I Want to See More of in Literature

Yes, I do realize this was a Top 10 Tuesday post a while ago, but since today is neither Tuesday, and I don’t have merely 10 things, I don’t think it’s too much of a problem to post this today. One day I will actually post one of these things on a Tuesday, but that will probably not be until the future.

Anyway, here’s my list!

1.) More of the Enemies>Friends>Lovers trope. Not gonna lie, but I’m in love with this trope, and it want to read more books with it. I find it so romantic when two people start off on opposite sides of a conflict, slowly become friends, and then realize that there’s something more. In all reality, I think I just want this because I was a hardcore Zutara shipper during the Avatar: The Last Airbender series. You know we were cheated out of our Zutara moment, fans!

Image result for zutara gif
Sorry…need a moment {sobs}

2.) Books set during the Civil Rights Movement. There aren’t many YA historical fiction books set during the Civil Rights Movement, and it’s a shame. It’s unfortunate because teenagers and young adults were the backbone of the Movement. If I don’t see this soon, I might have to write my own.

Image result for teenagers during civil rights movement

3.) Books set during The Great Depression. The Great Depression was an important yet tragic time in American history. I think it’d be a good idea to see novels about teens riding the rails or even maybe a Robin Hood retelling set during this time period.

4.) No more girl-on-girl hate. I’m so tired of girls hating each other simply because one is more popular or because one wears more make-up. I especially hate when girls who are supposed to be friends end up hating each other because they fought over a boy. I was so annoyed when I recently read a book where two girls who have been friends since preschool end up feuding because one decided to date the other’s crush. Real friends don’t act that way.

Image result for fake smile gif
We don’t actually all act this way…I promise…

5.) Study abroad novels. I know there’s a whole series dedicated to this premise but they’re literally not anywhere I know except online. I don’t even see them at my library and honestly I don’t even know if they’re any good. Anyway, I love books where characters travel overseas and experience a culture shock. Or even having a foreign character comes to the U.S.

6.) More time travel books. I want a Magic Tree House series but for YA. I was obsessed with the Magic Tree House as a kid and I would love to have a series where characters all over time to participate in hi-jinks and shenanigans.

Image result for magic tree house

7.) More girl-friend groups. The years I spent in high school and middle school were awesome NOT because of any lasting romances, but because of the amazing friends I had. I’d love to see more groups of girls being friends, and possibly kicking ass and taking names together. Like the Sailor Senshi!

 

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…realizing much of this list is due to downright nostalgia…

8.) Fairy-tale retellings of diverse mythologies/folk tales/fairy-tales. Don’t get me wrong. I love Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid, but I’d like retellings of Asian, Latinx, African, or Aboriginal folklore too!

9.) More epic fantasies where the protagonist is a female. The fantasy industry has largely male main characters, and I’m kind of getting bored with it. As a writer who’s currently penning a (hopefully) epic fantasy of her own, this definitely needs to happen.

10.) Books set during the 1990s. I want to see more YA books set during the 1990s and early 2000s. These years shaped my childhood and I would love to see books that talk about 90s pop culture…

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11.) DIVERSITY (especially in fantasy and sci-fi)!!! I know this was probably on everyone’s list, but I really mean it. As a biracial woman, it infuriates me that people can get mad because there’s POC in a fantasy world where there’s talking frogs, magic, and…I don’t know, flying pigs. Like really? There needs to be more representation of everyone whether POC, LGBTQA, or disabled characters.

Honorable Mentions: Fantasies involving the Zodiac signs, powerful female superheroes, more magic boarding schools/colleges, and soooooo much more!

Book Reviews

Book Review – The Lines we Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah

The Lines We Cross

The Lines We Cross is a thought-provoking novel with an important message that resonates with the political climate of today. Our two protagonists are as different from each other as night and day. Michael is the son of two avid anti-immigration activists who believe immigrants should completely assimilate into the Australian culture. Mina is a refugee from Afghanistan whose life is starting to look just a bit brighter…until she has to move to an upper middle class neighborhood to Michael’s private school and ends up clashing with Michael’s parents’ group, Aussie Values.

What I Liked:

I absolutely loved Mina’s character! She was intelligent, sarcastic, and sassy…basically everything I could ever want in a main character. In the beginning of the novel, Mina feels like a fish-out-of-water. She has moved from her multicultural neighborhood in West Sydney to attend a prestigious private high school. Her growth over the course of the novel from insecure new student to confident young woman was endearing. I also absolutely loved her family.  I was glad to see Mina’s stepfather depicted as endearing and a doting husband and father.

I also loved the moment when Michael began thinking for himself and stopped regurgitating the things his parents and Terrance told him to. Michael, as a character, I kept going back and forth about liking. I wish he had started thinking for himself and questioning his parents’ values before he met Mina. While she did serve as the catalyst for his change, it seems that he ONLY changed just to impress her.

The setting of Australia was different and refreshing to me. I personally can’t recall reading a YA contemporary novel not set in the States or the UK. It was a nice change and I enjoyed learning about Australian culture. Personally, I didn’t think about the fact Australians go through a lot of what we go through here in the United States, such as a tense political climate.

The writing was superb and kept me transfixed. I couldn’t put the book down except to go to work and to sleep. I loved Fattah’s prose.

Also, Paula and Mina are 100% BFF goals.

What I Didn’t Like (and it Worked):

Ugh. Michael’s parents and their friends disgusted me. They were so condescending and patronizing. My problem with them was that their brand of racism is the type where they believe what they’re doing is right for those “inferior” to them. Every time they spoke, it just ground my gears. I also wasn’t too fond of their treatment of Michael’s younger brother who is definitely coded as being autistic thought it is never mentioned. What REALLY made me mad was when reading about how their mother told her child who takes everything literally to “Get out of her way” and the poor boy ended up having to be brought to her by the police because he thought she meant her words. It’s treated as a cute memory but I was kind of disturbed. It only made me dislike Michael’s parents a lot more.

Final Verdict:

I loved this book immensely and it is definitely a novel we need in today’s world. It teaches us to have compassion to those who may not look like us. I laughed, I cried, and I laughed some more. I highly recommend it to everyone, especially people who want to view life through another’s eyes.

Rating: A+