book review

Microreview Monday


Here are some of the books that I finished in the month of August but did not have the time to write a fully fleshed out review for!

  • A Magical Reckoning by N. R. Hairston

RATING: 1/5 stars; GENRE: Fantasy

I voluntarily received an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

I honestly just didn’t enjoy this book; if I had picked this book up without being committed to reviewing it, I would have put it down again. I didn’t find the plot lines particularly interesting, nor did I identify with any of the characters. A lot of times, characters that were not the protagonist were underdeveloped. The whole theme connecting the five stories together was magical betrayal, but the relationship between those who were betrayed and those who did the betraying were never fully fleshed out. You always had to take the word of the one who was betrayed that the relationship was strong, never experiencing the strength of the relationship for yourself, and that made it hard to be invested in the relationships or feel anything when the betrayals were revealed.

There were also a lot of magical elements in all of the stories in this book, but it was hard to be anything other than confused because there was not a lot of world building that occurred and the reader was thrown into the action without getting a heads-up of what meant what. The last story took place in Virginia of all places, and this was hard for me to wrap my head around because as far as I know, the other stories did not take place in our own world. Or maybe they did- it was kind of hard to tell.

I also have to say that the concept of a woman having to buy the men she courts physically pairs of shoes or anything…is just horrifying to me? Why does a woman have to owe a man anything just because he slept with her? It’s degrading.

  • Before We Die Young Books 1-3 by L.T. Quartermaine

RATING: 3/5 stars; GENRE: Young Adult

Just a personal note…I was the first one on Goodreads to review this book! which was exciting for me but whatever.

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

For those who are survivors or victims…there is definitely rape, sexual assault, murder, general violence, and abusive relationships portrayed in this book. Read at your own discretion.

I tore through the three novels in this book, because of the always-engaging, fast-paced action and the lovable, almost invincible characters. I liked the idea of animals and humans bonding together to help each other out, and I liked how each next novel built off the others preceding it. These books reminded me of those superhero movies that have so much action going on that you barely have time to process what’s going on. It kept the book enjoyable, although the more meaningful points in the plot may have been lost on me because I spent so much time trying to keep up with what was happening. The characterization was also nicely done, but this book is definitely for those who prefer plot development over character development. The prose is clear and suits the storyline as well.

I am slightly saddened that this book succumbs to the common YA trope of two characters engaging in sexual relations only because they are on the brink of death. Other than that, I would recommend this book to anyone who likes intriguing stories that are packed with action.

Advertisements
Standard
book tag

Reading Habits Tag


I stumbled across the Reading Habits Tag, which originated with The Book Jazz. All the questions involved will be in bold, in case you’d like to also participate! So without further ado…

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

Yep, it’s called my bed. The bed in my dormitory is probably my favorite place, just because my desk is reserved for homework and all things studying. It’s also a small bed, so it’s easy to make and then flop down on to get a few chapters done!

Where do you like to read?

I like to read outside or places with ambient noise, such as the dining hall or in a coffee shop. But honestly, I read everywhere I can: the gym, while walking, while waiting for class or for appointments, on the bus, and while eating.

Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Random piece of paper. I used to have a million and one bookmarks, but now, since my life is so disorganized, I instead use any piece of paper I can find lying around.

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter / certain amount of pages?

This depends. I think it typically I like to stop after I have made the progress that I wanted to make. Sometimes, though, if I’m reading while waiting for something, I can and have to just stop reading.

Do you eat or drink while reading?

Yes, of course. Sometimes I will read an ebook but most times I will listen to an audiobook.

Music or TV while reading?

Maybe music if it is music that I am familiar enough with it. Otherwise I get too distracted. I have never tried TV while reading, but I have a feeling that it wouldn’t go down all too well for me.

One book at a time or several at once?

Several at once! Especially since I consume books in multiple formats, I am always usually reading an ebook on my phone, listening to an audiobook, and reading a physical book. I get through my TBR so much quicker this way and listening to an audiobook allows you to multitask while reading.

Reading at home or everywhere?

Everywhere! I wouldn’t get as much reading done if I only read at home, that’s for sure.

Reading aloud or silently in your head?

I find that I read quicker silently in my head, but I will read aloud if I want the information to stick.

Do you read ahead or skip pages?

NEVER. Nope, I don’t see the appeal. I like to maintain the integrity of the plot.

Break the spine or keep it like new?

Keep it like new! Although I do have a few gently used books that I have acquired from thrift stores, and book sales, and I do like the lived-in feel of these books. But for newer books, I always keep them as pristine as possible.

Do you write in your books?

I will write in my books if I am reading them for school; those annotations and highlighting helps me keep track of passages I’d like to discuss in class or write analyses of. My copy of Romeo and Juliet and my copy of Jane Eyre are all marked up.

Who do you tag?

You, if you’d like to do this tag!

Standard
book review, memoirs/biographies, nonfiction

Review: The Year of Magical Thinking

Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.

The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion

64ee7bf5ca6efe7cb2b3970f66516113

Click on the image above to purchase the book on Amazon.

I picked this book up at a book sale not knowing much about it other than knowing it was one of the books on Rory Gilmore’s Reading Challenge list, but I was pleasantly surprised.

AUTHOR: Joan Didion

GENRE: nonfiction, memoir

WHERE DID I GET THIS BOOK: at a book sale

RATING: 5/5 stars

BACKGROUND: Joan Didion is a writer, and so was her husband, John. Her memoir A Year of Magical Thinking takes us through the year immediately following the passing of her husband, John. There are many personal reflections on the significance of her grief, memories described that detail moments the writer lived through with her family and her husband, and there are even clinical and scientific considerations of what grief is or what it does to the human psyche.

THOUGHTS: I believe that anyone who has had to go through the painful experience of losing someone that is close to them can understand and take something away from this memoir. Since I personally had a bad experience with trying to understand my grief, I found this book to be intriguing, educating, but ultimately I found that I could relate to what Didion’s descriptions of her grief portrayed.

Didion’s writing is clear, succinct, and engaging. I flew through this book in the span of less than a day; it is easy to read, and it gripped me in every page. Didion has all the tricks and marks of an experienced writer, but it also felt like she did not hold much back in this memoir. I could not think of much criticism to lend this book, so I gave it the 5/5 stars that it deserves.

For those of us who would rather read a book that is more lighthearted or would like to stray from the emotionally heavy -this book may not be for you. Of course, reading about darker matters in fiction books is significantly different than reading about the same subjects in a nonfiction book. The stakes are real, and the descriptions that Didion offers in this book are quite hard to forget, or at least they are for me.

However, if you have had a personal struggle with grief- with dealing with it, with defining it, with reigning it in and letting it breathe, then I would highly recommend this book to you. Didion is almost everyman in this book, besides her glamorous lifestyle as a successful and career writer, but I almost assure you that you have something to gain from the details of her pain and the journey she went through. Additionally, she did all of the research on grief, so you don’t have to. The humanity of this memoir is probably its best quality, however- everyone, no matter their life experiences, can take solace from this book about how those who remain living, even when their loved ones pass, can engage in magical thinking until they are ready to return to a world that is not dominated and defined by loss.

Standard
memoirs/biographies, nonfiction, Uncategorized

Review: Between the World and Me

I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.

Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates

1-coates-between-the-world-and-me

Click on the image above to purchase on Amazon.

I was given this book by my University last year; it was assigned to all First Years as a “Common Book”, or a book that would help us in culminating an accepting and diverse campus. And let me tell you- it’s one of the most valuable books I’ve been given. Valuable, I mean, in terms of the potential it has to enlighten readers.

AUTHOR: Ta-Nehisi Coates

GENRE: Non-fiction

WHERE DID I GET THIS BOOK: my university gifted it to me

RATING: 5/5 stars

BACKGROUND: Ta-Nehesi Coates writes this book in the format of a letter to his young son, and with it comes advice for how to navigate through the modern American society as a black man. Coates touches on his own experiences, and those of his friends, to piece a picture of what the black experience in America was, and what it might be in the future. Coates employs self-introspection, evidence from the world around him, and past and contemporary events in order to define what really stands between the world and himself, in the hopes that his son will be able to understand where he is coming from and understand what his father is pushing him to do in order to protect himself in a society that values black bodies less than most other bodies.

THOUGHTS: There is not a whole lot of criticism aimed at this book, but I remember discussing it with a friend whose political views differ from my own. I remember that he told me that he didn’t agree with what the book was saying, and that it was written from a skewed perspective (I’m paraphrasing). However, I do not know if this is a valid criticism of the book because a) my friend is not a black American, so why did he think that his view of how African-Americans experience the world is more valuable than that of an African American’s and b) even if you disagree with the conclusions that Coates come to, it doesn’t mean you can invalidate his feelings and his experiences because they are uniquely his own.

With that out of the way, I thoroughly enjoyed this read because I realized that this is the closest that I will ever get to understanding what it is like to grow up as a black person in America, and that is a valuable thing to obtain. I am not an African American, but I am still a racial minority in this country that is definitely more socially privileged than African Americans are. Reading through Coates’ experiences, takes on the world, and advice to his son, I encountered, figuratively, many aspects of racial discrimination that I had not previously been exposed to in my personal experiences. I learned, not only the why and how things were, but more importantly, I could see how Coates’ experiences tied into his conclusions and his worldview. Although it is different than my own, I was grateful for further understanding why someone with remarkably different experiences than me would view American society in such a way as Coates does.

There are also aspects of this book that are universal, or at least more identifiable- the worry a father has for his son, the despair of a person who watched his friends suffer invisible tragedies, and the struggle of a community who has every odd against them. There is also the celebration of the value that community can bring, and the liberty that one or two books can provide. There is the questioning of the world around one’s person- and more importantly, the question Why? is echoed over and over.

Most of all, I appreciate the book’s acknowledgement of reality and it’s realistic approach to the subject- yes, there is hope, but more importantly, there is skepticism. After all, the history between American society and African Americans is brutal and horrific, and there is nothing that indicates that the future of their relationship will be drastically better. But it is not overly pessimistic either; Coates has not given up hope for his son, for the future of his race and his people. And that, to me, is the most important part of this book- acknowledging the mountain that lies ahead of you, and attempting to climb it anyways, driven by the slight hope that this time, you might make it to the top, because it will be worth it when you do reach it.

Even if this book does not sound like your cup of tea, I’d recommend it to you. I promise you will gain something valuable from it, even if it is only the perspective of someone that differs from you.

Standard
book review, fiction

Review: So Long, See You Tomorrow

I had inadvertently walked through a door that I shouldn’t have gone through and couldn’t get back to the place I hadn’t meant to leave.

So Long, See You Tomorrow, William Maxwell

so-long-see-you-tomorrow

Click on the image above to purchase on Amazon.

AUTHOR: William Maxwell

GENRE: Fiction

WHERE DID I GET THIS BOOK: Amazon

RATING: 4.5/5 stars

SUMMARY: A middle-aged narrator looks back on the events surrounding the murder that had affected his best friend, Cletus, when both of them were adolescents. The narrator was not personally affected by the murder, but keeps returning to it in his memory, unable to let it go. He reconstructs the persons involved in the crime, and the part they might have played in leading up to the murder. As he digs back into the past and how it upset his friend, Cletus, he finds bits and pieces of his own past that also beg for closure, at last.

THOUGHTS: I really enjoyed Maxwell’s writing in this book. It had dreamy qualities to it, ones that appropriately fitted the farmtown he was describing and that enhanced the fact that this story was told throughout memories. I also like Maxwell’s choice of a narrator- by choosing someone who was not involved in the murder, there is no bias in the narrator’s retelling of the events.

The subject of loss, and coming to terms with loss, is heavily explored in this book. The figurative language used to demonstrate the narrator’s struggle with his own losses, as well as how lost he is in the present, is done so masterfully and in a unique style that I have not encountered before.

The multiple narrators, or at least, the multiple personas that the narrator takes on when trying to explain the events, gives the story multiple points of views; and this choice is appropriate, so that characters are neither villified nor idealized, but rather, as human as they possibly can be.

In a way, the way that this book approaches memories was reminiscent of The Glass MenagerieThe fact that memories and fiction go so well together, and the fact that the relationship between the two is so tangible and yet unreachable, since memories are only configurations of our imaginations, the things that only we think happened, makes for an interesting subject to read about. I also like how the subject of maturity and maturation is not necessarily linked to a certain age- the narrator is in his fifties (don’t quote me on that) but he is still learning a lot from reflecting on his youth and examining emotions that he has repressed for too long and has never really learned to leave behind in the past.

The plot is engaging, even though there is no suspense or mystery to the crime. There isn’t supposed to be, and if it were, it would take away from the actual story. I read this novel in the span of a couple of hours, and if you are looking for a quick, thought-provoking, and enjoyable read, then I would definitely recommend this book to you.

Standard
challenges, reading goals

Our Shared Shelf


Did you guys know that THE Emma Watson has a book club? AND it’s all about reading books about feminism?

I’m technically part of the book group on Goodreads but I have a confession…I haven’t been keeping up with the book of the month that they have been reading. Actually, I’ve barely read any of the books that they’ve read. But for the sake of expanding the genres that I read and the subjects I read about…I am going to start a masterlist and keep track of my progress on it. They’re only about 15ish books in…so it shouldn’t be too hard to catch up!

striked out titles means I’ve read them; I’ll link reviews if I have reviewed them on this blog.

I got their read list here.

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale
  2. Women who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories about the Wild Women Archetype
  3. The Vagina Monologues
  4. Mom & Me & Mom
  5. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
  6. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl
  7. The Complete Persepolis
  8. The Agronauts
  9. All About Love: New Visions
  10. The Color Purple
  11. My Life on the Road
  12. The Beauty Myth
Standard
book review, classics, reading recommendations

Review: Little Women

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

little-women-book-cover

Click the image above to purchase on Amazon.

If you don’t know by now, I’m a sucker for a good classic. And this happens to be one of my childhood favorites.

AUTHOR: Louisa May Alcott

GENRE: Coming-of-Age, Realistic Fiction

WHERE DID I GET THIS BOOK: I got it so long ago…I don’t exactly remember.

RATING: 5/5 stars.

SUMMARY: This story follows four sisters (Jo, Beth, Amy, and Meg) and their mother, Marmee. Their financial situation is tight since their father is gone to fight in the American Civil War. Meg and Jo must work in order to support the household. Each sister has a specific and distinct personality: Jo is the tomboy who dreams of being a writer with a best friend named Laurie, Meg is the most maternal out of all the sisters and is a natural beauty, Beth is the musical and shy sister, and Amy is the baby of the family. These four girls must face the challenges of poverty, the challenges of maturation, and above all, preserve their sisterly bonds in the face of tragedy and even happiness.

THOUGHTS: I love, love, love this novel. I read it as a child, and I aim to read it again as soon as I get through the monstrosity that is my TBR list. Alcott’s writing is clear and touching, so much so that I’d be surprised if you could make it through the novel without being choked up or crying.

The strongest part of this book is the characterization, both individual characterizations and the characterizations of friendships, in this novel. The four sisters are all unique and all flawed, but still love each other unconditionally. Each sister possesses a strong voice in the story, and anyone with a sister will recognize the origins of their bickering and the cause for their affections towards each other. This book is all about women supporting women, which I am HERE for.

Even though this book can be consumed by children easily, it still approaches the mature themes that coming-of-age novels often approach. The subjects of career, marriage, child-rearing, illness, death, love, and courting are all touched on in this novel. Alcott creates real portraits of real women that any female reading can relate to and any male reading can recognize.

So, enough of my prithering. Go read this classic if you haven’t already!

Standard