15 February 2018

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Series: N/A
# of Pages: 210
Publication: October 17th, 2017
Source: Library Copy
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository 

Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut. Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can't escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out. Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it's Justyce who is under attack.

This was one hell of a book. I wish I would have read it as soon as it came out last year but I'm glad I got to it this year. It was AMAZING. It was relatively difficult not to compare it to The Hate U Give as both books covered information related to the Blacks Lives Matter movement; however what I enjoyed about this book was the character perspective or point of view. It was refreshing in more ways than not to gain the perspective of a black teenage male.

As a black woman, I've been told by my father many times that he has found living in America tricky. There are situations that he has encountered that he felt like he wouldn't have encountered had he not been a black male. He also always tells me that he has to prepare my brother in ways that he didn't have to prepare me because I'm not a black male. I never really understood that insight until I read this book. While the Hate U Give heavily focuses on the perspective of a black female experience police brutality, and racism, this book is told through the eyes of a black male. There are things and thoughts that are discussed that I never would have noticed or given much thought because of my own personal experiences. This book definitely defines the fear that some black parents have raising a black son and how certain aspects or lifestyles of their children can be used against them in situations like those discussed in this book. I must admit I was angry reading this book because things like this happen everyday. Not necessarily talking about the violence and police profiling but the simple remarks and comments that people can make out of ignorance. For example, I was really irritated by Jared. He thought that the world we live in today is color blind. He couldn't be more wrong and it frustrated me because he didn't understand his own privilege especially when it came to getting a good education. When I was in high school I applied to several prestigious institutions and I'll never forget that my own counselor felt as though I only got into those schools because they needed to fill a quota. Mind you I was a well rounded student, was ranked number seven out of over five hundred students, did community service, and was highly involved in school activities. Nevertheless, all he saw was color and the fact that a black student was some how getting into well known and regarded colleges and universities. Although this may be a work of fiction, these things happen on a daily basis. It is the every day reality of some people including myself.

This book had so much to offer in such a small amount of pages. There were parts of this book that I didn't see coming. Specifically those parts towards the end of the book. It was shocking and heartbreaking but well written. While I don't think it had as much beauty as The Hate U Give, Dear Martin is a powerful novel in its own right and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is another book I'll be adding to my collection. If you have read The Hate U Give then I recommend picking up this novel next.

Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work.

Stone lives in Atlanta with her husband and two sons. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @getnicced or on her website nicstone.info.

14 February 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday #28, The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa over at Wishful Endings She has taken on a similar meme to Jills Waiting on Wednesday over at Breaking the Spine. Since Jill hasn't posted in a while I'm going to join in on this meme. To participate all you have to do is spotlight upcoming publications you're eagerly anticipating. Keep reading to see what I have chosen for this week.

Series: N/A
# of Pages: 368
Publication: March 6th, 2018 
Goodreads | Amazon 
A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo. Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems. Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

Okay first things can please admire the beauty of this cover?!? It's absolutely beautiful. I am a huge fan of slam poetry so when I heard that this book would surround slam poetry I knew that I needed to get my hands on it. I think it also deals heavily with racial identity and that definitely is up my alley. They were giving away arcs of it at YallFest; however, I wasn't able to get my hands on it so I'm super excited for the official release.

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

08 February 2018

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

Series: N/A
# of Pages: 328
Publication: September 22nd, 2015
Source: Library Audiobook
Genre: Literary Fiction
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Inspired by Nigeria's folktales and its war, Under the Udala Trees is a deeply searching, powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly. Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls. When their love is discovered, Ijeoma learns that she will have to hide this part of herself. But there is a cost to living inside a lie. As Edwidge Danticat has made personal the legacy of Haiti's political coming of age, Okparanta's Under the Udala Trees uses one woman's lifetime to examine the ways in which Nigerians continue to struggle toward selfhood. Even as their nation contends with and recovers from the effects of war and division, Nigerian lives are also wrecked and lost from taboo and prejudice. This story offers a glimmer of hope — a future where a woman might just be able to shape her life around truth and love.

First let me say that I actually picked his book up on a whim. I had no idea what it was about and why so many people loved it. I needed another audiobook to listen to at work and this book stood out to me amongst all of the other books. I can't believe that I didn't read this book last year. It was truly amazing. I couldn't have asked for more. The writing was elegant, simple yet created this passionate and heartbreaking narrative of the LGBT community in Nigeria. While I don't have much knowledge of the community in terms of various African nations, I did know that it is not typically accepted and could be punished by jail time. I remember Trevor Noah doing a stand up segment in which he discussed his first time learning that in Zambia there were police officers who went undercover to discover whether people were gay or not and then proceeded to have them arrested. Understanding this and then watching the plight of the main character made the story that much more dynamic. I found the relationship between Ijeoma and her mother to be interesting. Her mother clearly had trouble coping after the father died and didn't understand how to effectively be there for her daughter. She is also the forefront and reasoning for understanding why and how religion plays such a huge role in the entire concept of the book. I'm a very religious individual and I did not find the incorporation of religion to be misinformed in anyway. I think that Ijeoma definitely had some insight in trying to understand how her sexuality fit into the framework of her religion. One character I did not like definitely took the shape and form of her husband. At first I thought he was kind but he ended up representing everything that society tried to push Ijeoma into becoming. Some of his comments blew my mind especially when he questioned why she would want to love a woman when a woman couldn't give her what she wanted. It was awful and I'm pretty sure that some intimate encounters between the two of them would have been considered rape. Some parts of the book were difficult to read but I can understand why they were needed.

Overall I thought that the book was amazing and wonderful testament to the LGBT community in various African countries. I think it definitely is a book that should be read by a wide group of people. The only thing I didn't like was the chronology of the book. Ijeoma narrates the book by telling you the outcome of the event and then going back and giving you details. It took a while for me to get adjusted to that but overall this book was definitely worth the read. If given the opportunity I would also recommend listening to this on audiobook.

Okparanta was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and relocated to the United States at the age of ten. She received her BS from The Pennsylvania State University, her MA from Rutgers University, and her MFA from the University of Iowa. She was one of Granta's six New Voices for 2012 and her stories have appeared in Granta, The New Yorker, Tin House, Subtropics, and elsewhere.

07 February 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday #27, Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa over at Wishful Endings She has taken on a similar meme to Jills Waiting on Wednesday over at Breaking the Spine. Since Jill hasn't posted in a while I'm going to join in on this meme. To participate all you have to do is spotlight upcoming publications you're eagerly anticipating. Keep reading to see what I have chosen for this week.

Series: N/A
# of Pages: 304
Publication: March 20th, 2018
Goodreads | Amazon 

When Marvin Johnson's twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid. The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it's up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean.

The first time I heard about this book was at YallFest last year and I was hesitant about another BLM/police brutality book being published. However, I'm still excited for the publication of this book because I felt the same way about Dear Martin and I absolutely loved that book. These books are important, yet I don't want them to become a trend. I think it will be great to get another book from the perspective of a young black teen that has to deal with the chilling effects of gun violence.

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

06 February 2018

Top 10 Tuesday: Longest Books on My TBR

Happy Tuesday Everyone! Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday. Remember that this is now being hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is to find the top 10 books that have been on our TBR the longest. I used my good reads to find books that I've make "to read" going back almost four years ago. Smh. I'm so ashamed I haven't started most of these books yet. Keep reading to find out what they are! : )

Perks of Being A Wallflower. So this is one where I've actually seen the movie but I've never read the book. I thought that the movie was amazing so I'm sure I'll think the same thing about the book, but first I need to find the time to get to it. Coraline. Once again, I've seen the movie of this one, but I've never read the book and I actually have never read anything by Neil Gaiman so I need to change that. Anna and the French Kiss. This is supposed to be a really cute contemporary. Everyone has read it, well except for me. 

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour. I've read one of Morgan Matson's other books, but for some reason I haven't had time to get to her other books. It's probably because I mainly read contemporary during the summer. Can You Keep a Secret? This is a book I'm really looking forward to listening to on audiobook. I love Sophie Kinsella books on audio. The narrators are usually really good. Roots. There is no excuse for not having read this book. I'm ashamed that it's even still on my TBR.

Shakespeare Sonnets. I've read a few his sonnets before and they were completely and utterly beautiful. I just need to find a complete collection and then I'll read them sometime soon. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. This is a classic and I know that most people had it as required reading in high school or college. Unfortunately, I didn't so I'm looking forward to reading it. Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict. I read the first book in this duology a while ago and found it to be truly captivating. I enjoyed every single second of it so I have no idea why it's taken me so long to pick up the second one. 

Wildwood Dancing. This is another book that I've heard so many good things about. I don't even remember where I heard of it, but I can't wait to pick it up. 

What are the longest books on your TBR?

03 February 2018

Review: Binti by Nnedi Okarafor (Mini-Review)

Series: Binti #1
# of Pages: 96
Publication: September 22nd, 2015
Source: E-Book
Genre: Science-Fiction
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository 

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs. Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti's stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach. If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself - but first she has to make it there, alive.

This was actually my first experience reading science fiction and I really enjoyed it. The author didn't just focus on creating a new world but she also added some social commentary especially commentary regarding race and culture. I loved that this was an #ownvoices book in a different genre. The writing was simplistic but it built a world in such a short amount of time. I wouldn't have expected so much creativity to occur in a novella. I will say that because it was so short there were some holes that need to be filled. This only made me more excited to read the second part. I want to know more about the world and what other interesting characters readers can expect to meet.

Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian American author of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults and a professor at the University at Buffalo, New York. Her works include Who Fears Death, the Binti novella trilogy, the Book of Phoenix, the Akata books and Lagoon. She is the winner of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards and her debut novel Zahrah the Windseeker won the prestigious Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature. She lives with her daughter Anyaugo and family in Illinois. Learn more about Nnedi at Nnedi.com.

31 January 2018

Tentative February TBR

Happy Monday everyone! I can't believe that we've already made it to another day that brings us closer to February. As I have said time and time again, this year is definitely going to fly by. I can't wait to see all that is in store. So with February closely approaching, I wanted to share my February TBR which is going to be extremely tentative. I like to read a lot of books with African-American authors and I usually participate in #readsoullit. However, with school being in session I have to keep in mind that I'll be doing readings related to class. This ultimately means that my TBR won't be as stacked as it usually is during other months. Let's go ahead and jump into a few of the books I plan to read and finish up in the month of February.

A Long Way Gone (Goodreads): I've been meaning to read this book for a while. It not only fulfills my goals to continue to read books associated with foreign authors, but it also fulfills my goal to focus on reading more non-fiction. I've heard about the children soldiers in Sierra Leone; however, it will be amazing to get a first hand account of the experience of a child that was actually forced to fight in the civil war. Calling My Name (Goodreads): I keep putting this book off; however, I think this is the perfect time for meed to read it this month. I have not heard much about it, but it appears to be a coming of age story and it really sounds interesting. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Goodreads): This is a classic that I need to read this year not only because I've set a goal to read at least 12 classics this year, but also because I think that it is an important book.

Drama High: The Fight (Goodreads): This was a book I wanted to get to in January as well, but I didn't get the chance to read it so I think that it will be priority. The Underground Railroad (Goodreads): This is a book that I've heard so much about, but have yet to read. I'm really excited to get to it this month. I've heard that it takes the Underground Railroad and provides the reader with so much more. 

So the major question is probably what am I currently reading?? As always it's a few things haha! I won't talk about them too much here, but I will have the covers posted below. 

What do you plan on reading this month?