book review

Book Review: Ghetto Dogs

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Set in the middle of Harlem, New York, GHETTO DOGS explores the lives of many people as they are connected in some degree to world of Dog fighting. Being Romagnoli I was expected a lot more first-time-author kinks than I actually got. The plot, while scattered through the lives of many characters was easy enough to follow that I didn’t get too distracted. It was a very steady book; Giving that this book was  ability to critique social institutions and law reinforcements was a plus for me. Something I wasn’t really expecting. Any reservations I had about this book based on the title were thrown out the window when I started reading the book. It was pleasing with the diverse cast of people in with their own story in a way, it felt like I was back in harlem when reading this book —  Overall this book was a great read and I’d recommend it to a good bit of people!

 

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Book Review: Lord of the flies

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Lord of The Flies by William Golding is one of those novels people label as timeless and a classic, and a MUST read, so I read it.

 

Goodreads synopsis

As dystopian stories like Hunger Games and Battle Royale surge in popularity, this haunting tale of a group of young boys stranded on a desert island still captivates school children around the world, raising timeless and profound questions about how easily society can slip into chaos and savagery when rules and order have been abandoned.

General thoughts and review

I wasn’t expecting the book to get as graphic as it did at time. Tugging at the human elements and how easy it is for a group of people to turn from civilized to degenerates. A lot of the characters were dynamically different that it allowed for the nonsensical plotline to work perfectly. It’s something unsettling about reading a bunch of young teens killing and sodomizing pigs, barbaric in its nature it’s the picture of survival and group think. When good and evil clash, these boys turn over to evil. LotF is as much a psychological thriller as it is about society. Where the boys are equal parts paranoid of “the beast” and live, without actually seeing it, in fear of it. Typically I have a favorite character but I just didn’t care enough about any of them. I mean they were all just kind of  annoying.

Diversity scale and critic

As far as diversity scale goes it was a bunch of teen boys stuck on an Island, it was probably more diversity among the animals they saw on the island. One big problem I have with this book is how unrealistic it seems. I don’t know if it was the fact that I walked in expecting a more realistic telling of people stuck on an island but nothing about this actually made sense. Also for a classic it sure was slow. Like first half of the book is boring slow. It also wasn’t anything special. It feels like also any other novel that tries to look into human nature and the tug for humanity when isolated and morals and judgments are abandoned.

Final thoughts

I mean its a quick read if you don’t have anything to read. It’s your average dystopian novel except overpraised.

ARC review: The Light Fantastic

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Goodreads synopsis

Delaware, the morning of April 19. Senior Skip Day, and April Donovan’s eighteenth birthday. Four days after the Boston Marathon bombing, the country is still reeling, and April’s rare memory condition has her recounting all the tragedies that have cursed her birth month. And just what was that mysterious gathering under the bleachers about? Meanwhile, in Nebraska, Lincoln Evans struggles to pay attention in Honors English, distracted by the enigmatic presence of Laura Echols, capturer of his heart. His teacher tries to hold her class’s interest, but she can’t keep her mind off what Adrian George told her earlier. Over in Idaho, Phoebe is having second thoughts about the Plan mere hours before the start of a cross-country ploy led by an Internet savant known as the Mastermind. Is all her heartache worth the cost of the Assassins’ machinations? The Light Fantastic is a tense, shocking, and beautifully wrought exploration of the pain and pathos of a generation of teenagers on the brink—and the hope of moving from shame and isolation into the light of redemption.

General thoughts and review

Coming off the heels of her debut novel Sarah Comb’s sophomore novel The Light Fantastic is a Young Adult psychological drama that masterfully follows eight different characters all dealing in some way with “The Plan”. Combs does such a wonderful job at making sure the reader gets fleshed out characters with equal reading time. Right off the bat the book wastes no time getting you hooked with its plotline, giving you little to no time to put on your seat-belt and get ready for this roller coaster.

This novel centers around “The Plan”, however unlike many of the other novels with the same kind of situational plot line, Combs doesn’t care to much about the actually Plan in her writing, instead she gets into the minds of those involved and effected by The Plan. This novel is extremely detail oriented, centered so much around the small intimate moments that really define us a Human that the reader cant skip anything. Every little thing matters, every little detail. From the time stamps to even the messages in the chat room.

I’m typically not a fan of Multi-perspective stories because it’s so easy for me as a reader to get lost. However, I found the transition between characters to be smooth and each character had such different styles of writing and unique phrasing that made them #Distinguishable, and each character had a network of side characters that really sold the book for me. It allowed me as a reader to really humanize the main characters.

I think some of the biggest themes or motifs in this novel is that everything isn’t always so black and white, that there is a grey area. Sometimes people can be so lost and feel like they have no one in their corner, like they’re suffocating on their pain so much that they’ll do anything to get rid of it. In this novel The Glass Menagerie, is referenced and utilized a lot in symbolism. Having already read this play I got a few of the parallel s in the novel. — All of which you’ll understand even if you haven’t read the play.

Diversity Scale & Critics

The diversity scale is a new measuring tool I will use to measure how diverse a novel is. The Light Fantastic is on surface, diverse. There are quit a bit of characters with “Ethnic” last names, A pair of interracial lesbian moms, & A gay male character. While these characters are mentioned or play a part in the novel, their not the main characters nor is the novel set around their experiences with how they identify.

I don’t have to many critics about this book, I thought it overall was a good read. I don’t think it’s one of those books you should walk into wanting action. It’s intense and plays heavy into what makes people do the things they do and how people can be pushed to the edge. I know I stated this earlier but Combs did such a wonderful job at humanizing these characters and using small, intimate moments to do just that.

Final thoughts

I thought the book was great, a lot of details and if you look hard enough you’ll find the message and the meaning behind the The light Fantastic. So beautiful, so poetic, so honest. I can tell the author took her time with everything. All in All I give this novel:

4stars.jpg

Thirteen Reasons Why: Book Review

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Thirteen Reasons Why is a YA novel written by Jay Asher. It centers around a set of cassette tapes sent to Clay Jensen who is next in line to receive them, On the tapes is a series of recordings by Hannah Baker a classmate who recently committed suicide. There are 13 tapes that detail how each person drove her closer to suicide. The tapes are to be listened to then sent to the next person, think Sisterhood of the traveling pants but darker, much much darker.
Told from two perspectives, from Hannah and Clay, (Which sometimes get confusing. One of the biggest things that struck a chord with me about this book is the concept itself. Before committing suicide Hannah records these tapes explaining to thirteen people how they pushed her closer and closer to suicide, then having them listen to it is almost her way of taking complete agency of her decision and letting those who hurt her know that this is because of you. So here we are as a reader following Clay as he listens to these recordings one by one and wonders why he’s on it. While the concept itself moved me the book fell a little flat at times. Similar to how I feel about Crank, Go Ask Alice, Glass, et al. I think sometimes we are bombarded with so much pain and we get all these emotions and “feels” for the character without little to none emotional relief, it gets to the point where I can’t stay connected with the character, however with that being said there is nothing comedic about suicide or depression and I think myself as a reader is often put in places of uncomfortableness when reading realistic books. I didn’t think this novel would be such as heavy of a read as it was, covering topics such as Rape and sexual assault, bullying etc. I enjoy books that get the human experience right and I think the author does a great job at it.
While this book is good it does not go without fault or critique. A major problem I have is how it almost seems as if Jay Asher is romanticizing this idea of suicide as the ultimate “Gotcha” to people who have hurt Hannah.

“When I’m dead, they’ll all be sorry.”

Like I stated earlier, conceptually I like the cassette tapes but in practice it seems that it is Hannah’s job post-mortem to teach them a lesson, to better themselves as human beings. Tugging on the Manic-Pixie Dream Girl troupe. The recordings themselves and the people they are sent to all vary to different degrees. Someone people did disgustingly horrid things to Hannah. While others might have done some things that people might seem as not that big of a deal. It all depends on the person. Do think however that sometimes Hannah was always on a ten for me. Like everything to her deserved the same amount of anger and reaction.
If anything Thirteen Reasons Why has people talking. I believe books like this serve a bigger purpose than just a fictitious narrative, they allow for conversations to happen. For readers to connect with someone who might be struggling with suicide, and while in no way is the romanticized idea of being sending tapes to those who’ve hurt you after death a good idea. Talking to someone is, or reaching out to those you know might be battling this. At the end of the novel Clay decides to check up on one of his classmates who he assume might be suicidal, that is the message this book should be sending to its readers, It’s thirteen reasons why perfect? No. Asher leaves out a few areas that would be better at understanding Hannah and Humanizing her more, but this book does justice and reaches its target audience. I give this book three stars out of five.

Giovanni’s room: Book Review

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Giovani’s Room by James Baldwin follows the main character David as he is alone in Paris after his then girlfriend, Hella, has fled to another country after David proposed to her. After she leaves David begins to become involved with a man named Giovanni. Much of the book is spent leading up to a big day.
Baldwin did such a wonderful job writing this novel, he allowed himself to take control of how queer characters were represented at the time of publication. There is nothing fun about this book, it is honest and it will take your breath away and leave you in pieces. David is the typical American guy in Paris trying to discover himself, while his wife is away he decides to hang out with an old friend Jacques in order to ask for money, – did I mention this book was set in Paris, after James Baldwin had fled America to stay in France with Nina Simone, anyways, this novel infuses hints of French in the text –  They end up in a gay bar where they meet Giovanni and so starts their relation.

      “People can’t, unhappily, invent their mooring posts, their lovers and their friends, anymore than they can invent their parents. Life gives these and also takes them away and the great difficulty is to say Yes to life.”

David and Giovanni’s relationship is stressed to be one of actual love, they both play an active role in each other’s well-being.  More so Giovanni to David, what starts off as a little fun turns into something more. Giovanni serves as a catharsis for David. A chance for David to be honest with himself. However, there is a struggle. The title of the book speaks to book in its entirety. Giovanni’s room, this dark claustrophobic room that David is trying to escape. This escape is not from harm, more so from the truth. Upon Hellas arrival David fled from Giovanni. David is now torn in this “love triangle” Stay with the woman he’s proposed to or someone he just met. James Baldwin holds no punches in this novel, from the homophobia Hella expresses when she meets Jacques and is put off by his mannerisms or the internalized homophobia expressed by David when he returns to find Giovanni has changed.
There are many themes that Baldwin explores in this novel, ones that don’t even directly involve sexuality. His writing truly embodies the Parisian experience from an outsider’s perspective. It can be argued that David’s experience could in part be Baldwin’s experiences while he was an American expatriate in Paris or James Baldwin could be living vicariously through the privilege of a fictional white character (David). While it is never expressed directly in the novel sexuality obviously plays a big factor here. While many people argue that David (and Giovanni) are gay men, I think rather that David might be bisexual as he never expresses he doesn’t love or isn’t attracted to Hella anymore just that he now has eyes for someone else. Baldwin also explores the topic of “Passing” in this novel, be it David’s attempts to pass as Paris native or passing as straight when the character might not be other-wise.
Baldwin does a wonderful job at writing this novel you really begin to feel like you’re reading this love novel and that there is going to be this happy ever after ending with a walk on the beach during sunset and everyone is going to be happy, but no, you finish this book in tears – remember I said James Baldwin holds no punches—the novel takes a surprising turn. He gives you just enough of the past, present and future to where you’re unable to put this down.  I give this book 5 stars out of 5.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Probably my favorite book so far this year. Adichie wonderfully tells the story of what happens when you migrate to another country, and how the idea of race or how it is perceived is not monotonous across the globe.

The story follows the main character Ifemelu as she travels to the united States from Nigeria. Ifemelu runs a blog.“Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-­American Black”.  Most of her blog post center around how blackness is defined and how it differs geographically. However, while the blog post are often delightful misnomers in the novel they are not the center of it, and unlike MOSQUITO-LAND  i’m not a full fan of the entries. This novel centers Ifemelu transitioning from Nigerian to American or Nigerian to Americanah?

One of the big things I enjoyed about this book is how it approached the different tribalisms that exist in our society.

Classism.
Race and racism.
Identity.
Western vs Eastern culture.

All these go into shaping how Ifemelu views transitioning and living to America and back to Nigeria to America. These tribalism are interesting because we get to see how she adjust to her living conditions in American, and how America is viewed from the perspective of an outsider. Chalked up with honest moments about the lengths people are willing to take to fit in and gain acceptance.

I give Americanah  5 out of 5. Probably one of my favorite adult reads this year, I recommend this book to any and everyone!

Contemporary review: Reconstructing Amerlia

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Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

This book is family centered around a mother-daughter relationship. Instantly we get a feel of the hectic nature of their relationship. Where the mother, Kate, lives this work oriented lifestyle and has little time for Amelia. With a quick turn of events, and by quick I mean within the first 20 pages (so this isn’t spoiler) Amelia commits suicide by jumping from the roof of the school. Shortly after Kate gets a text saying Amelia didn’t jump.  And so the journey begins.

When we talk about book titles and how they relate or convey a message about the book. This title for me takes the cake. Almost immediately after Kate is forced to rethink everything she has ever known about her daughter and literally reconstruct her back together. Piece by Piece. Told in two perspectives, from the voice of Amelia before she jumps, and told in third person in Kate’s perspective this book is fast pace. Each chapter gives you a little, but also leaves you wanting more. The main plot, Kate searching for the truth about her daughter is only able to advanced with a lot of the smaller sub plots and mystery’s that we get to watch unfold. As the reader we get to venture into this world of privilege and pain. While the story is told from both of their perspectives, it is also told through Amelia’s social post. I love the saying Art imitates Life, and in this novel, the art gives an honest interpretation of Online Bullying. Chalked up with enough twist and turns to keep you guessing. I give Reconstructing Amelia 4 out of 5 stars. While I found the novel a simplistic suspenseful page turner, a lot of the turns seemed to predictable at times. However, I recommend this as a read if you want something refreshing and new.