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Frankenstein

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – 4/5

Genre: Classic Science Fiction/Gothic

Longman Cultural Second Edition

fullsizeoutput_1269Frankenstein has taught me not to judge a book by all its adaptations and pop culture. I never had any interest in this novel because I really didn’t want to read about a mad scientist who made a creepy green monster. However, I’m glad to report that the book is much more than that.

Pop culture has reduced Frankenstein’s creature to a zombie version of  the hulk; a creature who is dumb and murderous. True, the creature goes on a murder spree, but I think it’s important to understand how he got to that point. The creature is far from a zombie, but actually very intelligent and quiet possibly a vegan.

In my opinion, Victor Frankenstein is not a mad scientist, but an artist. He wanted to create life and create something beautiful, and science was a means to that end. Of course what he intended was not what was produced.

Depending in how you read this book, I don’t think the creature is the only antagonist. Victor fills this role as well.

Obviously, Frankenstein covers themes like physiognomy and nature vs nurture, but the story goes further. Because the  novel references “Paradise Lost” by John Milton, it also has biblical references.

There are many topics to be discussed in Frankenstein:

  • Violence (implied and the physical act)
  • Education
  • The search for glory
  • Beauty
  • Representation of women
  • ethics/morality
  • Complexities of relationships

Seriously the list continues. I could go on, but I don’t want to spoil the book for you. I’m just happy that the book I read, it not what’s portrayed in the media.

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The Immortalists

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin – 3.9

Genre: Fiction

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Good Reads Synopsis: It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.
Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

If I could describe The Immortalists in few words, it would be dysfunctional with a little bit of magic.

Sometimes a hype surrounding a book can really ruin it for me. While I did enjoy reading The Immortalists, it was not what I expected. The story is told through the four perspectives of the Gold children. 343 pages is not long enough to cover the life span of four siblings. Three out of the four stories I wish were longer. Some things just seemed plopped in without much thought. The ending is rushed and doesn’t live room for realistic character growth. But what I enjoyed most about the book, I don’t want to give away because it will ruin the reading experience.

A couple of take aways beside the major one:

  • Sometimes we lose control when we try to gain it and in the process, possibly lose sight of what’s most important.
  • “Thoughts have wings.”
  • Faith, superstition, magic, religion etc… gives us something to believe in when reality is not enough.

While this review is short, I do not discourage anyone from reading it; the juicy details are fun to discover.

Little and Lion

Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert – 5/5

Genre: YA Realistic Fiction

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When life gets busy, reading can become more difficult (at least for me). With college and homework, I found that I didn’t have a the energy to read, but I hated not reading at all. The solution…audio books! I’m so glad I finally joined the club. I am able to read and while walking and chore type stuff.

So Little and Lion, a YA book packed with diversity and representation. A not so typical nuclear family. Yes the family consists of two parents and children. However, this family comes together spiritually; an African-American mother and daughter joined by a Jewish father and son.

Mental illness and discovering who you are take center stage in this YA novel. Self-identity, family and love are all woven into tha pages to create a story that represents a family of the times. Families that are diverse, because there is no such thing as one size fits all.

Characters like Suzette, aka Little are very relatable. A young teenager trying to figure out who she is while others try to slap labels on her. More often than not, these labels feel confining and can leave the person feeling trapped. Something I believe many people, young and old can relate to. Lionel aka Lion, another character that is not always written. A bipolar teen and just like any other teen, wants to be himself, accepted and loved for who he is. Because of his disorder, he battles with the best way to live a healthy life.

For those who loved I’ll Give you the Sun, will enjoy the sibling relationship and story of Little and Lion.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald – 4 🌟

Genre: Contemporary

Quirky, charming and bookish. I believe those three words best describe this book. Sara decides to take a holiday from Sweden and visit her book loving pen pal in Broken Wheel, Iowa. However, when she arrives her pen pal Amy is dead. What to do now?? Instead of heading back home. Sara decides to stay and see where this reading holiday will take her. With one book at a time she brings dying Broken Wheel back to life. Not only does she meet interesting people with their own interesting affairs in this small town, but she she finds love and a place to call home. Sara learns that life and reality can be just as good as they are in books, we just have to make it happen.

Not only does this book make you happy while reading, but it also makes you glad that you are a book loving individual. I would definitely recommend this book to all book lovers and readers.

Self Portrait

I’m currently talking a creative writing course this semester, and our first section is poetry-my favorite! One of our first assignments was to read and analyze a poem in a group. The poem we were assigned was Self Portrait by Linda Pastan. I want to share it here because I read the poem a couple different ways and I thought is was very interesting.

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Self Portrait by Linda Patsan
I am child to no one, mother to a few,
wife for the long haul.
On fall days I am happy
with my dying brethren, the leaves,
but in spring my head aches
from the flowery scents.
My husband fills a room with Mozart
which I turn off, embracing
the silence as if it were an empty page
waiting for me alone to fill it.
He digs in the black earth
with his bare hands. I scrub it
from the creases of his skin, longing
for the kind of perfection
that happens in books.
My house is my only heaven.
A red dog sleeps at my feet, dreaming
of the manic wings of flushed birds.
As the road shortens ahead of me
I look over my shoulder
to where it curves back
to childhood, its white line
bisecting the real and the imagined
the way the ridgepole of the spine
divides the two parts of the body, leaving
the soft belly in the center
vulnerable to anything.
As for my country, it blunders along
as well intentioned as Eve choosing
cider and windfalls, oblivious
to the famine soon to come.
I stir pots, bury my face in books, or hold
a telephone to my ear as if its cord
were the umbilicus of the world
whose voices still whisper to me
even after they have left their bodies.

The first time I read through the poem, it seemed a little sad and depressing. The woman portrayed here seems to have an okay life. A wife, mother, someone who takes comfort in writing, books and her home. A life with a garden in the backyard and a dog. It sounds kind of white picket fence; however, the tone feels stagnant and a lack of passion in said life. For example, “On fall days I am happy / with my dying brethren, the leaves, / in spring my head aches”. Spring fills my heart with joy, energy and wonder, but then I thought all those flowers and pollen can make others head ache.

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“The road shortens ahead of me / I look over my shoulder / to where it curves back to childhood” makes me think that her life is reaching her end and childhood is where the happy memories are stored and the future is bleak.

Even as she talks about the country, “it blunders along… oblivious / to the famine soon to come”. Although this line seems far too accurate in the times we live in. Or the voices of the past she still hears and clings to. Again clinging to the past and all the good times, rather than looking forward to the future and what could come.

Yet, the second time I read through the poem, it seemed less depressing, but someone who has accepted her life and the fact the she will die. Death is obviously not a fun subject, who wants to die really? But the reflection and the tone of the poem seems to be at peace with what has happened, what is happening and what will eventually happen.

I think the metaphor of the seasons shows this acceptance. She feels happy in fall with the leaves, her “dying brethren” and her head aches in the spring. Like I mentioned before, spring symbolizes youth and fall the progression toward the older years until winter finally comes.

This reflection, or acceptance of death, does not seem depressing, but rather peaceful.

What do you think? How do you read the poem?

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One True Loves

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid – 5/5

Genre: Contemporary Romance

fullsizeoutput_1104One True Loves is my third novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and she does not disappoint. This is a novel that can be devoured in one sitting.

Goodreads Synopsis: A breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.
In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.
On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.
Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.
That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.
Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?
Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

What I love about Taylor Jenkins Reid is that she takes a light and easy read, and gives it a certain quality that makes it more than. It becomes more than a romance and more than a love triangle. The story is not about which guy is the best, which one is her true love, but rather love itself.

We know that love comes in many forms, but romantic love seems to be put into a box with a set of rules. You can have one soul mate, one true love of your life, or one love that makes you feel complete. However, life is not a box; it doesn’t follow a set of rules. Heartbreak and grief exist yet, one can love again after a heart has been shattered.

Over time people change and dreams shift. Therefore love cannot be recreated, but it can grow again. Love is not just about giving love to someone, but being your true self with that person and when reciprocated, it equals true love. That love can last indefinitely, which does not mean forever, but an unspecified amount of time.

Akata Witch

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor – 3/5

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

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Akata Witch is the beginning of a fantasy series following Sunny and her friends as they master magic and the supernatural.

Goodreads Synopsis: Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?

I have very mixed feelings about this book. In the beginning I was very excited in where this story was going to take me. Specially when it’s described as the Nigerian Harry Potter. I was ready to be taken on magical adventure in another country with diverse characters. The first themes I noticed were ones of an encouraging message. Embrace all of your qualities. “Embrace the things that make us unique…develop our most individual abilities.” Because this is a middle grade read, this is a very important message that every child should know. What makes us different makes us who we truly are and that is pretty sepactular. The author also points out prejudices between African and African-American. Just because ones skin is darker or born in a different country, doesn’t change their roots or make one better than the other. However, as I continued reading, the messages became more confusing. Ones like strive to be ambitious, but not too much. We expect you to save the world, but will hardly acknowledge it when you do. Or girls can do anything a guy can do, but if you can’t cook your man a meal, you’re done for.

What really bothered me about this book was the corporal punishment. The threats of canning and flogging are consistent in this read, and it threw me off-balance. I’m not sure if this is a cultural thing, but it made the read a little uneasy for me.

The ending is also very rushed. When it came to the final battle it all seems too easy and anticlimactic. I was left saying, “that was it? ” Don’t get me wrong the story is definitely unique, and Sunny is a character I can relate to and root for. The four friends complement each other and each bring a special quality to their coven.

Will I continue the series? That is still to be determined…

The Remaking of Corbin Wale

The Remaking of Corbin Wale by Roan Parrish – 3.5/5

Genre: Holiday Romance

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The Remaking of Corbin Wale follows the perspectives of both Corbin and Alex. Alex moves back to his hometown after a breakup and dissatisfaction with his job. Upon arriving, Alex’s mom gives him the keys to her cafe. His dream of opening his own bakery have come true. Corbin is the town’s outcast, the mysterious man who Alex cannot deny. Because Corbin is alone in the world, he uses sketching as a way to connect and embrace a life of solitude. What unfolds is the tug the two men feel towards one another, and the reason why Corbin is so afraid to let anyone in.

This book has the familiarity of a romance holiday read, but enough diversity to make it different and stand out. The plot follows a protagonist leaving the big city of New York, and heads home because life did not go as planned. Then he opens a bakery in his childhood hometown and falls in love. Sounds like a classic holiday romance. The difference in The Remaking of Corbin Wale is that the author gives you LGBTQ characters and Chanukah (Hanukkah) instead of Christmas.

With a holiday read, there is this certain magic quality. I would not go as far and say it’s in the genre of magical realism, but it’s there. This book has a couple similarities that remind me of Practical Magic. Full disclosure, I’ve never read the book, and have only seen the movie. With that being said, Corbin lived with his aunts growing up and it was rumored in town they were witches. Corbin believes in a curse and for that reason, keeps himself closed off from the world.

While I did enjoy the read, there were a few things that bugged me. This is an adult fiction, however I couldn’t get the thought of Corbin as 17/18-year-old out of my head I’m not sure if it’s because I thought Corbin is too fragile at times, or the feeling that Alex can be tad bit possessive and or over protective of Corbin, or maybe I’ve been reading too much YA. The writing was also hit or miss with me. There were a few times when I thought the sentiment the author was trying to portray didn’t quite land.

Overall, it was a good read. Corbin being my favorite character from the book. He is confident and self-conscious at the same time (if that even makes sense). He is magical and non conforming. I don’t think he is a character I will soon forget.

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – 5/5

Published by Balzer + Bray

Genre: Realistic Fiction

fullsizeoutput_1081The Hate U Give is such a timely and current read. It follows Starr, a 17-year-old as she navigates between her two worlds. The poor area in which she lives and Williamson, the suburban prep school she attends. Starr’s world is shattered when she witnesses a police officer shoot her unarmed childhood friend. As Starr is trying to cope, the world  and especially her neighborhood is demanding justice.  “What Starr does-or does not-say could destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.”

Not only does Angie Thomas address racism and prejudices, but she does so with very real and believable characters. She takes a world no one likes to talk about and pulls you in with a story that is beautifully told.

As Starr is trying to deal with normal teen issues such as boyfriends, friendship problems, sex, she also has to cope with the death of her friend. While everyone is marching, protesting (some for the wrong reason) and using their voice, Starr is trying to figure out how to use hers in a way to bring justice to her dear friend. Is there a right or wrong way? She learns more about the vicious cycle of oppression, and how the lack of opportunities can lead someone down a path they are forced to walk.

THUG LIFE –

T he

H ate

U

G ive

L ittle

I nfants

F ucks

E verybody

One quality that I love about this book, are all the Tupac references. There is a negative connotation around the word rapper or rap. Now, that’s not say all rap is good because like with everything else, there is good and bad. However, rap is closely linked to poetry, and Tupac was quite the poet. Check out this interview compilation, Tuapc speaks from the heart and he speaks truth. Also check out his book The Rose That Grew from Concrete.

The Hate U Give is truly a remarkable and relevant read that I highly recommend.

 

 

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