Friday, September 29, 2017

Book Review: Exit West

TITLE: Exit West
AUTHOR: Mohsin Hamid
PUBLISHED: March 7th, 2017
GENRE: Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: A man and women meet and start a romance when their country is on the brink of civil war.
MY REVIEW: I'm going to be very honest: I wasn't expecting much from this book. I tend to find most of these books that get nominated for all these literary prizes rather tedious. For instance, when I was reading this, I was also trying to get through Love in the Time of Cholera. Spoiler alert: I couldn't finish it, it was so boring (as well as sexist and it pushed the Nice Guy narrative). But I did not get that with this one. It was that rare literary book that was not only well-written, it was interesting.
I try not to compare books, but as I was reading this at the same time, I couldn't help but compare it to Love in the Time of Cholera. This book, was far superior. The characters don't make you want to scream, the romance is better, female characters are treated with more respect, there's actually a point to it and it doesn't drag on and on. This book was less then two hundred and fifty pages, but it managed to get in a story and character development ten times better.
In case its not clear, I loved this book. I will be rooting for this one and Underground Railroad come literary prize time (it's already made the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize!).
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Underground Railroad, Mohsin Hamid fans, literature readers
MY RATING: Four out of Five satisfied nods

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Book Review: Freedom is a Constant Struggle

TITLE: Freedom is a Constant Struggle
AUTHOR: Angela Y. Davis
PUBLISHED: January 2016
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Speech/Interview/Article collection
PREMISE: A collection of interviews/articles/speeches that Angela Y. Davis gave over the past few years.
MY REVIEW: I'm not terribly sure how to review this one to be honest. It's not really a book persay, it's mostly just a collection of speeches, or articles, or interviews that activist Angela Y. Davis gave in recent years. If you are a big Davis fan, this is a good one to have. If you aren' probably weren't going to seek it out in the first place.
There are a lot of interesting thoughts here. Reading this made me wish I could see her give these speeches in person. I wish they gave some sort of background on what the items were for exactly. Some I could figure out, but others such as the interviews, I did not.
This is a very short book. You can probably read it in less then a day. The speeches at least are well worth your time.
WHO SHOULD READ: Angela Y. Davis fans, those interested in the recent BLM protests
MY RATING: Four out of Five interesting speeches

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

So You've Finally Read: The Hate U Give

Yes, I'm finally getting back to these. This week, I'm doing The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book has been everywhere (for damn good reason too!) and it just recently might have bumped up on your radar thanks to that author who tried to cheat her way onto the NYT best seller list.
If that got your attention, and you picked this up and you read it and loved are some more books to look into afterwards:

Some fiction to read next:

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendon Kelly

I personally have not gotten to this one yet, but I have heard really good things (and its been nominated for a bunch of awards). It sounds like it'd be a good one to dive into if you want more books that make you think about current race relations.

Another one to read after this: The Boy in the Black Suit also by Jason Reynolds

This Side of Home by Renee Watson

This one deals with gentrification more then police violence, but from what I've heard it does go into cultural identity a bit like The Hate U Give touches on a bit.

Another one to read after: Piecing Me Together also by Renee Watson

Some Non-Fiction related books to read so you don't become a Hailey:

On Intersectionality: The Essential Writings of Kimberle Crenshaw by Kimberle Crenshaw

Hailey was pretty much a textbook example of White Feminist. To avoid that, I recommend reading up on intersectionality and why it's important. I'd start with Crenshaw.

One to read after: Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks

You Can't Touch My Hair: and Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

Robinson tackles everything from black hair to race in this hilarious memoir that I highly recommend.

One to read after: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson

Dyson speaks directly to White Americans and deftly explains how yes, actually we do live in a racist world still. And even better, gives us tips on how to be better allies at the end.

Some Non-Fiction related books that touch more on some topics brought up:

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

If you have seen all the news footage featuring this month's cop who killed a black person and walked free, read this book and somehow still think the system is perfectly fair and totally not racist, read this book. If you still think that after reading this and all the stats in it...I don't think anyone can help you.

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race by various authors, edited by Jesmyn Ward

A fantastic essay collection from last year that touches on a lot of topics mentioned in The Hate U Give.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Coates talks to his son about race relations in this powerful memoir. Good one to read if you were confused about Starr talking about how Khalil wasn't following the rules of being pulled over by the police.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Book Review: Rest in Power

TITLE: Rest in Power-The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin
AUTHOR: Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin
PUBLISHED: January 31, 2017
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Biography/Memoir
PREMISE: The parents of Trayvon Martin talk about his life and the events that occurred after he was murdered.
MY REVIEW: Despite the title, this is not strictly about Trayvon Martin's life. There are a few chapters in the beginning where his parents go into what he was like (and I can't help but notice the stark contrast between what he was like and what the media tried to paint him as). A majority of this book goes into the Zimmerman trial, the media attention and what the parents experienced after his death and it is frankly heartbreaking to read.
There was one thing that became very clear to me after reading this: Zimmerman was always going to walk free. Everything from the way the parents were questioned about Martin instead of him, to how the trial was handled, to the frankly racist media coverage of it that kept trying to paint Martin as a thug...yeah, Zimmerman was never getting charged. I wish I could be mind-boggled at that, but considering all the things that have happened since then, from Ferguson to just recently in St. Louis, I'm not (full disclosure, I live in the area and I'm sorry but it is no accident Missouri keeps having all these problems: there is massive racism out here).
This is a very powerful and honestly, very sad book. If you want a deep dive into stuff the media did not tell you about the Trayvon Martin case, I highly recommend reading this.
WHO SHOULD READ: those that want more details about the Trayvon Martin case then what the media told them
MY RATING: Four out of Five powerful books

Monday, September 25, 2017

Book Review: The Ship Beyond Time

TITLE: The Ship Beyond Time
Book 2 in the Girl From Everywhere series
AUTHOR: Heidi Heilig
PUBLISHED: February 28th, 2017
GENRE: Fantasy/Time-Travel
PREMISE: Nix and her crew continue their adventures on their time-traveling ship.
MY REVIEW: The Girl From Everywhere was a vastly underrated book from last year. It had a time travel ship, pirates, adventure, an awesome female character, interesting family dynamics...all the things. I personally was very happy with it.
I'm just as happy with the sequel. It jumps right into things and figures the readers are smart enough to remember what happened last time. It ties up a lot of plots nicely and there's lots of things going on in this book as there was last time.
All in all, this was a solid sequel. It looks like Heilig has something new coming out next year in the fall and a contribution to an interesting looking anthology so I'm happy that it looks like she's here to stay.
WHO SHOULD READ: those that have read The Girl From Everywhere, Doctor Who fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five time travel ships

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Notable Releases: 9/17-9/23

Here are some notable releases on my radar from this past week:


Three Dark Crowns Book 2: One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns was a favorite of mine from last year. Can't wait to see how it all goes down.

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

FINALLY, a new Cashore book! Some of you may recall, I am a huge fan of the Graceling trilogy.

Kingdom on Fire Book 2: A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess

A Shadow Dark and Burning was a pleasant surprise from last year. I look forward to its sequel.

Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George

A debut that promises a contemporary retelling of Much Ado About Nothing. Hopefully it is minus all the gross sexism/slut shaming that was in that play.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

About a girl who starts a feminist-like magazine at her school and starts a revolution. I personally, can't wait to read this.


Paperbacks From Hell: A History of Horror Fiction From the 70s and 80s by Grady Hendrix

Pretty much what it sounds like: a loving look into all those pulpy horror books with cheesy covers from the 70s/80s. I'm here for stuff like this.

Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years by David Litt

One of Obama's speechwriters writes hilariously about his time in the White House.

The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison

Essay collection from Toni Morrison? Yes, please.

Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change by Ellen Pao

For those who don't know, Pao is the one who sued a Silicon Valley firm for discrimination. The suit revealed a lot of toxic things that happen in Silicon Valley. This book goes into that and what companies can do to make the work environment less toxic.


Captain America Secret Empire TP
Power Man and Iron Fist Vol. 3: Street Magic TP
Moon Knight Vol. 3: Birth and Death TP
Case Closed Vol. 64

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Book Review: Winter of the Gods

TITLE: Winter of the Gods
Book 2 of The Immortals series
AUTHOR: Jordanna Max Brodsky
PUBLISHED: February 14th, 2017
GENRE: Urban Fantasy/Mystery
PREMISE: Selena aka the goddess Artemis and Theo look into a murder that may be the work of a cult trying to murder the gods...
MY REVIEW: The Immortals was a hidden gem from last year that I still feel should have been way more popular then it was. Think adult Percy Jackson series from the gods POV with murder mystery thrown in.
This series deftly continues from the last book. We get more of the gods, more character development for everyone involved last time and a great lead in for the next book. I love that the author doesn't make everything easy for Selena and Theo they actually have to work at their relationship. It doesn't ignore that this is a goddess and a mortal in a relationship.
There's just so much in this series that I love. It's part mythology, part mystery, and has an awesome female character at the center of its plot. I can't wait to read more.
WHO SHOULD READ: Adult Percy Jackson fans, mystery fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five awesome PIs

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Book Review: The Dark Prophecy

TITLE: The Dark Prophecy
Book 2 in the Trials of Apollo series
AUTHOR: Rick Riordan
PUBLISHED: May 2nd, 2017
CATEGORY: YA/MG (it's sold as MG. I think the series is more YA)
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: Apollo continues his adventures as a demi-god.
MY REVIEW: This one will be short. My opinion on this series doesn't really change much: I adore these books. They are utterly silly at times. But Riordan writes them in such a charming way I kind of don't care.
If you've read the first book in this series, you know what to expect. This is very much the same. Apollo continues to be a delight. I can't wait to read the next one as well as the next Asgard book.
WHO SHOULD READ: Rick Riordan fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five favorite series continuing to be favorites

Monday, September 18, 2017

Book Review: The Library of Fates

TITLE: The Library of Fates
AUTHOR: Aditi Khorana
PUBLISHED: July 18th, 2017
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: Amrita's kingdom comes under seige and she uses a magical library to change the fate of her kingdom...
MY REVIEW: If I could rate this book on the author's imagination would get very high ratings. I love the world in this book. It's very imaginative and beautiful.
Unfortunately the plot and characters...don't really live up to the setting. The plot is a tad predictable. It's tied up nicely, but if you read a lot of YA can probably guess what's coming. Another issue is it's very rushed. There's no pause in plot and that leaves very little time spent for me to connect with characters or for there to be much character development at all. The result is an okay book...that I didn't particularly connect too.
It's not a bad book. It's just...not particularly fantastic either. This is just one of those books that's just kind of there. I recommend it to those looking for books that draw from Indian mythology. But...that's about it.
WHO SHOULD READ: Wrath and the Dawn fans, fantasy fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five shrugs

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Notable Releases: 9/10-9/16

Here are the notable releases from this past week that are on my radar:


The Grave Keepers by Elizabeth Byrne

I've seen no hype surrounding this debut and I'm not sure why. The story sounds cool. With ghosts, sister bonds, and everything.

Warcross Book 1 by Marie Lu

The buzz around this book has been HUGE. I for one can't wait to read it, Lu has become one of my favorite authors in recent years.

Fallen Isles Trilogy Book 1: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

Meadows can be a bit hit or miss with me. I love her imagination, but her plots...can be a bit of a mess sometimes. Yes, I am aware of the protest going around this book about how white authors shouldn't be writing PoC and if she was using this book to write about what it's like to be black, I'd agree with the protest but it doesn't look like she is so...I'm reading and deciding after I read if I should be mad about this. Kind of wish more people would do the same.

Shadowshaper Book 2: Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel Jose Older

Finally, the sequel to Shadowshaper!

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Interesting looking book that actually has already been nominated for a few YA book awards, so I'll be giving it a look.

Odd & True by Cat Winters

I'm always up for a Cat Winters book. Her stories are always so interesting.

Adult Fiction

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

I've been hearing Locke's name around the book world quite a bit lately. I think this thriller might be a good chance to check out the author's work.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Everyone and their mother has been raving about this book. I personally, still need to read the author's other one: Everything I Never Told You first.


What Happened by Hilary Rodham Clinton

I'm sure you are well aware this book is coming out. It's been all over the news with people whining or cheering about the book depending on if the person was a Clinton fan or not. I'll probably give the book a look...eventually. I suspect having to relive that election campaign again will probably just piss me off all over again and like with Insane Clown President make me depressed about the awful state of our country's politics.


Lady Mechanika Vol. 4 TP
Jonesy Vol. 3 TP
Green Lanterns Vol. 3: Polarity
Harley Quinn Vol. 3: Red Meat
Elektra Vol.1: Always Bet on Red
Guardians of the Galaxy New Guard Vol. 3: Civil War II

Friday, September 15, 2017

Book Review: The Underground Railroad

TITLE: The Underground Railroad
AUTHOR: Colson Whitehead
PUBLISHED: August 2016
GENRE: Historical Fiction
PREMISE: Cora escapes her hellish life on a plantation along the underground railroad...
MY REVIEW: You very likely have already heard about this book. Chances are, you've already read it. Chances are, you already know if you want to read it or not. It's one of those books that has been everywhere, partly because the author apparently has been around awhile and because Oprah blessed the book by making it her book club pick last year.
Books that get this big can be very hit or miss for me. But luckily, this one turned out to be a hit. Once again I must point out: Oprah does get it right on her book picks sometimes. Not all the time (I wound up hating Love in the Time of Cholera) but a lot of the time. The writing in this book is phenomenal. The characters are fully fleshed out and if you don't wind up rooting for Cora by the end...I don't know what to say to you.
The historical research is top notch here, the story is powerful and memorable, the characters are great. Like, the only bad thing I can say about it is that it's a bit like Color Purple where all the constant hardship can sometimes feel draining. But also like Color Purple the character survives and becomes strong and it's just inspiring.
WHO SHOULD READ: Color Purple fans, Colson Whitehead fans, anyone inclined to read it
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five harrowing journeys that are worth it

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Book Review: We Are Okay

TITLE: We Are Okay
AUTHOR: Nina LaCour
PUBLISHED: February 14th, 2017
GENRE: Contemporary
PREMISE: Marin's friend Mabel comes to visit, bringing with her memories Marin would rather forget....
MY REVIEW: So this is the first solo Nina LaCour book I've read. I've read books she's written with others, such as You Know Me Well (written with David Levithan) which I adored last year. So this year I decided I'm finally going to look into the books she writes on her own. I have to say, she might become a favorite author.
We Are Okay is a very short book. It's under 250 pages, I read it all in one sitting. LaCour's writing is solid, her characters are....well as developed as you can be in such a short book. She tackles tough issues and has solid plots. She manages to tug on heart strings quite a bit in those short pages.
As far as quality goes, this isn't ground-breaking stuff. How to handle grief has been a thing in YA for awhile. But it's handled well, I think this is a pretty good intro to a author whose books I'm definitely going to be reading more of in the future.
WHO SHOULD READ: Nina LaCour fans, contemporary fiction fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five solid books

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Book Review: The Meaning of Michelle

TITLE: The Meaning of Michelle-16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own
AUTHOR: various, edited by Veronica Chambers
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
PUBLISHED: January 10th, 2017
GENRE: Essays, Social Commentary
PREMISE: A variety of authors write about Michelle Obama and her impact on them and society.
MY REVIEW:I don't really have much to say about this one to be honest. I thought I would, but I don't. It's basically what it sounds like: a Michelle Obama lovefest. Luckily I adore Michelle Obama, so I don't mind this. If you aren't a Michelle Obama'll likely hate it.
As much as I enjoyed it, I'm not entirely sure why this needed to be a book. A series of articles on a website would have just done the trick. But hey, if the Reagans and Clintons and all of them get a bunch of books about them, why not the Obaamas?
This is a very niche sort of book. Only certain people will seek it out. If you are a Michelle Obama fan, this will be your jam. If you aren't...move along.
WHO SHOULD READ: Die-hard Michelle Obama fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five shrugs.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Your Syllabus for: Dystopians

Trying to get back in the swing of doing these again. This week, I'm tackling dystopians. Dystopian can cover a wide range of ideas. I'm sticking to future (in our world) type of settings. So like steampunks that are sort of dystopians or alternate histories such as The Great Library series by Rachel Caine will not be on here (but seriously go read that series, it's awesome). I also won't be including those dystopians that tend to crossover into more sci--fi/fantasy territory such as Endor's Game. Mostly because I'll probably have a syllabus set up for those specific kind of books in the future. I'll be covering classics, YA, and adult dystopians.

First up: Dystopian classics. As I've mentioned, I consider classics to be anything published before 1985. If your book is over 30 years old, still talked about today and still relevant...I consider you a classic. So this covers quite a few books.

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1924)

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)

1984 by George Orwell (1949)

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)

Blade Runner 1: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick (1968)

The Handmaid's Tale by Margeret Atwood (1985)

YA/MG Dystopian (note, I'm not including all YA dystopians. Not all YA dystopians are created equal and frankly this list would get out of control if I did that). Stuff like Shatter Me or Gone where people get powers or whatnot are not going to be included here. That's more into sci-fi/fantasy territory in my opinion.

The Giver series by Lois Lowry (1993)

Feed by M. T. Anderson (2002)

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (2004)

Uglies series by Scott Westerfield (2005)

Last Survivors series by Susan Beth Pfeffer (2006)

Unwind series by Neal Shusterman (2007)

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (2008)

Maze Runner Trilogy (probably more series now) by James Dashner (2009)

Ship Breaker series by Paolo Bacigalupi

Insiders series by Maria V. Snyder (2010)

Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu (2011)

Delirium Trilogy by Lauren Oliver (2011)

Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth (2011)

Dustlands Trilogy by Moira Young (2011)

All These Things I've Done trilogy by Gabrielle Zevin (2011)

Article 5 Trilogy by Kristen Simmons (2012)

Vivian Apple Duology by Katie Coyle (2013)

Adult Dystopian

The Children of Men by P. D. James (1992)

Earthseed series by Octavia Butler (1993)

MaddAddam Trilogy by Margeret Atwood (2003)

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (2011)

The Circle by Dave Eggers (2013)

The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey (2014)

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Notable Releases: 9/3-9/9

Wow, September already. Lots of stuff coming this month. These lists are going to be long for September.


The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken

Bracken tries her hand at Middle-grade with this new series that I am completely here for.

Even the Darkest Stars Book 1 by Heather Fawcett

New series that looks like it could be cool. Fantasy has kind of let me down this year (at least in YA. So far the only YA fantasy book to blow me away this year has been Strange the Dreamer) so I'm hoping for good things.

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Lockhart makes her return after the super popular We Were Liars (a book I have mixed feelings about tbh). I'll give it a look. I imagine others will as well.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

I discovered Silvera just earlier this year and I have to say, I've become a fan. I'm looking forward to this really interesting looking book.

The Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente

Interesting looking middle-grade book from the author of the Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland series.

Feral Youth by various authors

Short story collection that is actually a bunch of interconnected stories told by various awesome YA authors. Sounds nice and spooky and perfect for fall.

Adult Fiction

Sutherland Sisters Book 1: Lady Eleanor's Seventh Suitor by Anna Bradley

New historical romance series. the cover? And as I've established I find I like these new duke/rake/scoundrel whatever series. They're cheesy as hell and a good thing to read when I'm not sure what to move onto next.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

I've been meaning to read Ward's stuff for forever now. I think I might finally take the plunge this year.


Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. by Danielle Allen

Memoir about a women discovering the secret life of her now dead cousin.

Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation by various authors

Pretty much what it sounds like: essays by a lot of awesome writers about the problems in America.


Iron Fist Vol. 1: Trials of the Seven Masters

Friday, September 8, 2017

Book Review: More Than This

TITLE: More Than This
AUTHOR: Patrick Ness
GENRE: Science Fiction/Mystery
PREMISE: A boy wakes to find himself in a strange world...
MY REVIEW: This book....I'm not even sure how to go about describing this book. The best I can come up with is...a YA version of the Matrix...sort of. I'm reminded a lot of We Are the Ants by Shawn David Hutchinson (have I mentioned you should read that book? Because you should read that book). The premise is weird and difficult to explain, but the important thing about the book is not even really the premise, it's the character journey taking place within the premise. Wow. That got deep...
There is lots of character study within this book. It all wraps into the mystery of what exactly is going on and whatnot. I have a feeling this is one of those books that is not going to be for everyone. It's very slow. Things tend to get frustrating sometimes when you try to figure out what's going on. It's got that very Patrick Ness quality to it where it's weird and you're not sure what's happening're enjoying the journey if that makes sense.
So this is one of those books that's hard to know if I recommend it. It is very quirky and I'm not sure if it'll be everyone's cup of tea. Luckily it was mine. Note to self: finish up the Chaos Walking Trilogy. I really do need to get on that and then I believe I will have read all of his books except for the one that is coming out soon (it was supposed to be out in May but apparently dates got mixed around and now it's in the fall...).
WHO SHOULD READ:  Patrick Ness fans, fans of We Are the Ants, those that like odd books
MY RATING: Four out of Five interesting ideas