Earthrise by M.C.A Hogarth | Book Review

Earthrise (Her Instruments, #1)Earthrise by M.C.A. Hogarth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not the hugest fan of sci-fi books but I am a fan of fantasy. And when I saw a black woman on the cover, I was highly intrigued. I was relieved to see a plethora of creatures, worlds and terminology that weren’t hard to follow and also were well-built into the story. One of my other favourite things was the cast of characters – none of which were dull (including Bryer, the Phoenix, who doesn’t speak much). The personalities and their interactions made reading this book feel like watching a movie.

Hmm, it read exactly like a movie, and I loved that. I think it is the perfect beginning for a series. There was a point where I was worried about it being having some cliche romance element but luckily for me, it steered clear of that.

There were so many highlights for me:
– amazing, dynamic characters
– engaging action scenes (also not too many)
– a very clear story that’s pretty easy to follow
– very realistic motivations for actions – every character was sensible and their actions, purposeful
– some pretty good humour

The book itself does alternate POV’s but not in a drastic or excessive way but more like just observing a different person at a different time. Most of all, the story never got lost in its genre. By that I mean, you could replace the fantasy elements and still have a good story. But don’t ’cause it’s the best part!

Now, I want my own Flitzbe!

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House of Women by Lynn Freed | Book Review

House of WomenHouse of Women by Lynn Freed

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Trigger warning: emotional abuse and rape.

This book was.. chilling. It is filled with situations and feelings that are described both directly or strongly implied. There’s a lot to ingest when it comes to reading this novel. At first, it seems like an exaggeration of the extreme negative perceptions of women and men. The women are harsh, dependent on attention, easily seduced, yet submissive to the men that are obviously wrong for them. As for the men, they are brute, overly-sexual, demanding yet distant from all women, and selfish in their desires. Now, I do agree that these type of people exist (maybe in large enough quantities) but on a spectrum. It boggled my mind almost every character fit into the respective stereotypes. I wondered if it was an examination of gender and sex that was written with a magnifying glass held to it.

It really was a house of women. It was of women who were broken, women fueled by rage, women overcome with lust, women trapped by loyalty. The two main characters: Nalia and her daughter Thea are the lenses through which we learn a woman’s motive behind certain behaviours and her subsequent thoughts that are a consequence of the people around her. The book, written in a fluid manner that I don’t think I understand even now, give the impression of that they are self-destructive and filled with love and hate that interchange in a way that causes their lives to spiral out of their control. However, it also manages to show these women on a search for something outside of the crutch that is their relationship. It is like watching two women who are so sure that they know the other well enough while trying to prove them right – and wrong – at the same time. I don’t blame you if that doesn’t make sense.

I have to admit, there is a general discomfort that I felt while reading this book. It caused me to want to know these characters better and become more understanding, and yet it somehow made me not want to feel sympathy for them. A whole book with no sympathy for any character (except for maybe Maude).

If you plan to read it, just think of it like this: you’ve picked up the diaries of women who have not only been mistreated but have also mistreated themselves, and they somehow try find a way to live lives that are fitting for someone as abnormal as they are.

I think I’d need to read this book again someday but I know it won’t be any day soon.

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Children of the Spider by Imam Baksh | Book Review

Children of the SpiderChildren of the Spider by Imam Baksh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

To be perfectly honest, this being a Caribbean fantasy book bumped my rating to 3 stars. I don’t hate it, just feeling somewhat underwhelmed. I’m not entirely sure what to pinpoint but I would’ve preferred if there was a lot more world-building in the novel itself. There are so many things I would’ve wanted to be explained better. I did appreciate the fast pace of the story, even though it hurt its plot a few times when things were just glossed over. I think it is incredible to fit such a rich fantasy into 197 pages but I don’t think those pages did it justice. With all the different creatures and concepts, there was so much to explore but they suffered by being squeezed into this book.

The story itself centers around a world that we don’t really visit outside of the beginning of the story. For me, the world itself is the source of the fantasy and by not really visiting it and rather only having it explained through quick, convenient dialogue, you miss the possibility for a fuller experience. That’s what is, everything felt convenient because there was no foundation to root the revelations/plot points in.

All in all, it has opened my eyes to Caribbean fantasy and now I just want more of it.

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For One More Day by Mitch Albom | Book Review

For One More DayFor One More Day by Mitch Albom

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m gonna try my best – my utmost hardest to explain what this book means to me and why it is now cemented in my life.

There’s something I think children never say and eventually lock away as they grow up and that is: I loved one parent more. No matter if they claim to love them equally, there’s a chance that 50:50 is 50.9:49.1. There’ll always be a difference and sometimes it shows. But a lot can change after a parent dies. There are things you regret not doing, things you regret not saying and love you regret taking for granted. Mitch Albom has written something beautiful and heart-wrenching with ‘for one more day’. He explains the guilt, disappointment, and misunderstanding that happens when a child chooses a side when he begins to perceive everything behind rose-colour stained glasses while creating a divide that pushes you away from what really matters.

Through tellings of the past, sweet letters from his mother, passages of the times he didn’t stand up for his mother while she always stood up for him, and the final chance he was experiencing at his rock-bottom we see something truly reflective. We see ourselves and our shortcomings. We see the gravity of decisions we should’ve put more thought into.

This novel has engraved itself into my life with each thought of it leaving a residue of lessons I won’t have to learn when it’s too late. The human condition is one that is feeble yet always evolving. We are not just who we are but also our relations and nothing beats (nothing SHOULD beat) your relationship with your mother.

This book is the perfect reminder to take the time to see who’s in your corner. Who’s REALLY I’m your corner. It forces you to see people as they are and not limit them to what you think they are. This book grabbed my attention and my heart and it’s an experience I can’t ever replace.

I recommend this book to anyone who needs to find a loved one who’s passed away; and for whoever needs to find themselves when they’re at a point of complete despair.

Amazing, amazing read.

“But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begins.”

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas | Book Review

The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Hate U Give was an emotionally draining book, and I mean that in a good way. It was an experience befitting the theme and story the author wanted to portray. The turmoil that you experience is parallel to that of the protagonist, Starr Carter, her family and her community as they navigate a lifestyle that is “normal for Black people in America”. The book gives the front seat of the general stereotypes for African Americans while doing a fantastic job at emphasizing that these stereotypes aren’t dangerous or bad, but rather a sub-culture that’s been created through years of oppression and that they are shared attributes rather than a blueprint for every single Black individual.

Starr’s character, being just another kid in her neighbourhood, Garden Heights, while also being a token black girl at her school, explores how -almost – necessary it is to revoke Black culture in order to not be a “threat” to the greater society and most importantly not a threat to Whites. The book doesn’t focus entirely on the events of a police shooting but on the people. The people that are affected, the oppression that recycles itself, and the frustration of the degradation of an entire race because of society’s standards that never even took this minority into consideration. Angie Thomas does a great job of helping the reader understand (especially those ignorant to those injustices) that these people have their own stories, struggles but most importantly they have loyalty, love, hope, and faith that helps to overcome. The biggest evidence being the Carter family that is real, loving, supportive and dangerously witty to be honest.

This relevant story is one that examines a perspective often left unheard, or purposely buried, that needs to be told, consumed, and shared.

It needs to be understood that :
So it’s not just a black thing then, huh?
A hairbrush is not a gun
The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody

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Note to Self by Connor Franta | Book Review

Note to SelfNote to Self by Connor Franta

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First things first, I love the concept for the layout of this book. The combination of essays, poetry, and photography created a pace that felt comfortable and personable – like a journal/diary (which was obviously the point). Each element, their order, and the themes were one of my favourite features of the book. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I would’ve read this book if I wasn’t a fan of Connor, as I’m not always on board with Youtuber-related books. Nonetheless, the excitement to read this book was very real.

Personally, the beginning of the book, especially the actual ‘introduction’ had me very excited for the book and all the pieces that were to come thereafter. Like I said before, it really does read like a journal, sometimes with the same juvenile expressions one would expect from someone expressing themselves while being more concerned with authenticity rather than excessive professional writing. With that being said, it was understandable that I didn’t really appreciate certain expressions or the dullness of some essays. That isn’t to say that I haven’t found amazing quotes and lines that I couldn’t help but love.

As a fan of Connor Franta, and aware of the way he speaks, it was nice to imagine all of his words in his voice and imagining that a lot of his advice was directed towards me. I also appreciated that even within writing mostly for himself and to express a lot of his hidden feelings, he writes for others – especially those dealing with anxiety and depression. It was great that he was very cognizant of his readers throughout his essays, making it feel like a conversation with a long-time friend. I did have some qualms about how most of the poems were written (mostly because of preference, I guess).

Overall, for those in his audience and for the overall feel and intent of the book, it was a good read that many who feel isolated, those with anxiety and depression, and those who want to know the mind of someone in a life of fame think behind closed doors.

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1984 by George Orwell | Book Review

19841984 by George Orwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There’s something about 1984 that reads like a novel-length essay. The themes, the concepts and even the state of each character’s being, mindset and placement in society is like a mirror being held up to our own society. There’s a real insight being presented on what it means to be apart of a “collective mind” and how the formation and relation between institutions and individuals affect each other. I believe Winston is just a vehicle to exploring this fictional (yet surprisingly familiar) society and how it operates.

I think story is lost on those that were looking for a traditional plot and development of characters. If you read the book as is, with no preset expectations, you’ll find there is a lot to take in from it and walk away with.

Personally I found 1984, to be a reminder as well as a checkpoint for me to really think about my individuality, what observe happening everyday and my part in it all. It forces one to recognize that your actions are influenced by and can contribute to the bigger picture.

One can be powerful enough to influence many but each person is responsible for who has that power.

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Coma by Robin Cook | Book Review

ComaComa by Robin Cook
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As someone who gets nauseous at even the mention of blood, I somehow got drawn towards a medical thriller. As it’s my first and can honestly say it wasn’t that bad (given nothing else to compare it to, I guess). The entirety of the plot was like an episode of some House rerun or something and just like House, even given the genuine interesting theme of the storyline, the characters make it or break it.

To be perfectly honest I thought the flow of plot points were good. There were no sudden surprises that unexpectedly “saved” the story or characters. The direction was clear and there was a decent enough build up of information given the timeline. I REALLY have no problems with the story – or the ending actually – but Susan Wheeler, our passionate, fearless, kind-hearted (I suppose) and unnecessarily stubborn heroine was a tad bit.. annoying. As someone who enjoys having heroine over a hero, I wish she understood the virtue of patience. I have to admit, it was quite refreshing to see a product of the 70’s have a woman who blatantly addressed sexism and idiocy of men and their hyper-masculinity when it comes to their jobs (especially a male-dominated one). The author perfectly illustrates how being a woman, though advantageous at times was always a downfall in the bigger scheme of things. Even with that said, Susan was at times too irritating, woman or not.

Luckily for Susan but unfortunate for the reader we get an equally difficult character in Mark Bellows who was obviously written to be a direct counterpart to Susan, even down to his sexist ways of how he thinks about her. It’s one thing to bring sexism in the workplace to the forefront with contrast of their perspectives but having them be “romantic”, if you can call it that was just a waste of time. Even the dynamics of their feelings were artificial and a waste of words on the page. Given that Susan is supposed to be very self-aware and also aware of the workings of society, it is very.. odd for these two fall in lov– like? Let’s just call it “strong-misconstrued-lust” for one another.

Anyway, the book’s premise is one I can appreciate, especially with the how the events unfolded and how easy it was for me to follow along with necessarily thinking to far ahead. We got new info when she [Susan] got new info and that’s what I want in a thriller.

All in all, I’m not sure if I’d read another medical thriller, or another Robin Cook for that matter.

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