Sunday, December 10, 2017

Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler


                Olamina has been living on Acorn for two years now with her husband and the many people who journeyed with her. Their small community has grown and they have embraced her teachings of Earthseed. They are making a life for themselves in their secluded home. But trouble it brewing outside of their community, in the shape of a presidential candidate who wants to return America back to its previous glory, when Christianity was the only practiced religion. Some of his people known as Crusaders have been making the rounds in the area near Acorn and while Olamina is doing what she can to protect her community and Earthseed, the future is extremely unclear.
                This second novel in Butler’s Earthseed series is a story told through the eyes of Olamina’s daughter, Larkin, who we soon learn was taken from her mother and given to a married couple to be raised away from Olamina’s heathen ways. We learn what has happened to Acorn through Olamina’s journal entries and Larkin’s narrative. This novel has the exact same strengths as the first novel: great world building, well developed characters and a detailed realistic and terrifying dystopia. I’m not sure how much I enjoyed Larkin’s character or her narrative but she stood in the place of a hard truth and the circumstances of a divided family. I think through her character you get a true look at how much destruction has been done to families. I enjoyed this book almost as much and I enjoyed the first in the series. Butler’s writing can carry any story and this one is no exception. I give this novel 4 out of 5 stars. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Comic Book Story of Video Games: The Incredible History of the Electronic Gaming Revolution by Jonathan Hennessey, Art by Jack McGowan

The Comic Book Story of Video Games: The Incredible History of the Electronic Gaming Revolution by Jonathan Hennessey, Art by Jack McGowan



                This was a really entertaining and fascinating look at the history of video gaming. Comprehensive and done with a nod to all those who took part in the creation of video games as we now know it, The Comic Book Story of Video Games doesn’t take itself too seriously but does make sure to leave readers with an overall history of how video games were created. I enjoyed this book. It kept me intrigued and revealed plenty of information that I wasn’t aware of. I thought the illustrations were well done and heightened the appeal of the overall story. Hennessey did his research and made sure to highlight many of the games people know and love while introducing those behind the scenes of their creation. I am not a video game master by any means but I thought this was well done. I give this 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

Thank you Blogging for Books for this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel


                This novel begins the night Arthur dies. He collapsed on stage while performing King Lear. His obituary would be in the next day’s paper. The night of his collapse would be the night the pandemic really began. The hospitals in Toronto were overflowing, the incubation period for patients with the Georgia Flu was hours, with death in days. And it was spreading, faster than anyone could imagine. Twenty years have passed since that night. Survivors are now in Year 20, since the collapse of civilization as it was once known. The Traveling Symphony that Kirsten travels with has seen what’s left of the world. They have their territory that they feel secure in covering after all these many years. Whenever she thinks back on that night, the night the world begins to end, it’s always Arthur that she remembers.
                I’m not sure how this dystopian novel worked as well as it did. I’ve read quite a few dystopian novels centered around the idea of a plague that wipes out the majority of the population. The way this one focuses on the journey of the survivors is something very unique. Arthur is the center around which this story prevails, which is somewhat interesting because Arthur is dead. But all of the characters who we become familiar with are connected through his life. Reading about the fate of each of these characters, with rotating narratives between time and characters, was really interesting choice. And St. John Mandel is able to really execute in that regard.
                I really enjoyed this novel. I thought it was a fresh new look at a way to tell a dystopian story. I loved the tone of the novel and the efforts she put in world building. I thought that each character brought a different perspective and helped tell a really well rounded story. I would definitely recommend this book. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton


          It all started the day “The Nutcracker” cast was announced. Bette knew she would be the Sugar Plum Fairy, just like her sister. And besides she is the best dancer at the American Ballet Conservatory. The chances that Mr. K would choose someone else for that role are slim to none. June feels the same way. She has been at the conservatory since she was 6. She knows all about how Mr. K chooses to cast his ballets, and that’s why she knows she won’t be cast as the Sugar Plum Fairy, because June is half-Korean and none of the Asian girls ever get a lead role. Needless to say, everyone was shocked when Gigi, the new girl from California, got the role. Especially since she is the only black girl in the class. Now Gigi unknowingly has a target on her back.
           So this book is really intense! I was expecting something along the lines of “Centerstage” with some dramatic flair. What I got was a surprisingly diverse group of characters, a stark look at race and drama ranging from an alcoholic mother, drug use, eating disorders and back stabbing. Including the three POV characters, there was wide range of personalities and lives that intersected daily. Charaipotra and Clayton did an amazing job with creating an environment that was devoid of stagnant characters. These stories breathes dance and it breathes emotion. I got swept away in the day to day activities of the girls and the drama present. It was definitely a plot that was easy to get lost in.
          This book does have a sequel which I will definitely be grabbing. I want to know how things continue for this characters. I know who I am rooting for and I know who I am hoping will choose a different career path and gain some damn humility. I definitely recommend this book. It’s fun and worth a read. I give this 4 out of 5 stars. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Perfect Days by Raphael Montes

Perfect Days by Raphael Montes




                Are you in the mood for the look inside the mind of sociopath, intent on forcing a girl to love him? If so, then stop right here because we have a winner with Perfect Days. It’s the story of Teo, the young medical students whose best and only friend is a corpse by the name of Gertrude. He was living with his mother and dog in Rio de Janeiro, when he met Clarice at a barbeque. Teo was entranced by Clarice and became so entranced that he convinced himself that she would love him if only they were able to spend more time together. And that’s exactly what they did. Clarice had been planning to go to a secluded cabin in Teresopolis, so after drugging her, Teo placed her in a suitcase and took them there. All he needed was time but the sedatives, handcuffs and gag couldn’t hurt. She didn’t realize that all they needed was time together and she could love him too.
                Disturbing enough for you? This book is an in-depth and personal look at the life of a sociopath. There is no way around that fact. From the very beginning of this novel, Teo makes the reader uncomfortable. He is very matter of fact in his decision making but he is not centered in any aspect of reality. His ability to analyze information is completely distorted by his view of his relationship with Clarice, even when no relationship exists.
               Perfect Days has the ability to make your skin crawl with its realistic look at Teo and his obsession. This novel is very well written with an unpredictable plot and a villain you can never root for. I couldn’t put it down. Mostly because I couldn’t believe how things were unfolding and the lengths Teo was able to go in the name of loving Clarice. Montes was able to reveal the motivations of his main character with an uncanny and distressing narrative. I give this 4 out of 5 stars.  

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance by Simone Biles with Michelle Burford

Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance by Simone Biles with Michelle Burford



                Simone Biles. I first heard of this amazing young gymnast in 2014. I am a huge Olympics fan. I like the Winter Olympics but I absolutely love the Summer Olympics. And one of my favorite sports to watch is Artistic Gymnastics. I always try and keep track of our Olympic prospects in the years leading up to the final selection and Simone stood out to me when she won the Nationals in 2014. She was incredible! I was hooked. I followed her career from then on and was ecstatic watching her compete and win in 2016 in Brazil. But I didn't know her story. As time passed and she was featured more in magazines and online articles I began to learn more about this stunning young woman. Needless to say I was eager to get my hands on this autobiography.
                Written with the assistance of Michelle Burford, Simone begins her story with a setback and what inspired her to train harder. She then begins telling her tale from the beginning with a mother who couldn't stay clean, living in foster care and eventually being adopted by her grandparents, who we all know and acknowledge as her mother and father. She then describes the daycare trip to a gym that would change her life and the painful decisions she would have to make to pursue her career as an elite gymnast. Told with grace and honesty, Simone told her story admitting the days that were filled with doubt and fear, other days where she couldn't believe her own success. It's a coming of age story filled with the commitment and the desire to be the best gymnast in the world.
                Needless to say Simone Biles is the best gymnast and one of the best athletes in the world. She is changing the game as we know it. I enjoyed this book. It's a quick and easy read filled with emotion. I wanted to learn more about Simone and I feel like I have. It's an inspiring story but it's also difficult. Too make so many life altering decisions at such a young age and to see the fruits of those decision rewarded! I doubt I'll ever meet Simone but I'm glad I was part of her experience even if I was just screaming while she was doing the tumbling or rooting for her loudly on my social media trying to spread the word about her. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Hunger by Roxane Gay

Hunger by Roxane Gay


                Is there anything more personal to us than our body? Is there anything more personal and yet so public as our body? Our size, our skin. These are the things that you notice upon meeting someone. Yet as much as we create and dictate what goes into our bodies, how we choose to show or cover our bodies, we can never dictate what or how others view our bodies. Hunger is the story of Roxane Gay's body. This isn't a memoir about dieting and exercise or finding the true her within her body. It is a memoir of her body, her life and her hunger. It is a memoir about pain. It is a memoir about sexual assault. It is a memoir about space. It is a memoir of how we judge and try to dictate other people's bodies.
                Hunger is an extremely intimate portrait of Roxane Gay by Roxane Gay. Whatever image you may have of her, good or bad, will pale in comparison with how she views herself. This book is raw and painful. It begs you to see the world as she does, and it is uncomfortable and all too telling to recognize society and the way it treats people. How do you fit in society's view? Does this gaze make you comfortable? Why does society feel it has any right to judge anyone's body? The many questions she ask and the questions that hold answers with little or no meaning to those most affected. Gay is super morbidly obese but you don't need to tell her that outright. She already knows because of how society treats her.
                You can never know someone else's story until they bare it all to you. I wasn't prepared for all that Gay exposed about herself. I don't think you can ever be prepared for someone to bare their everything. For me, it's because I know how it feels to bare my inner thoughts, my inner workings and be misunderstood. Hunger doesn't ask for your understanding. There are things you will not understand because you are not in her body. But you need to experience Hunger. You need to experience through her eyes, a life of someone whose pain caused them to hunger and that hunger built walls, walls that take time to come down. I give this 5 out of 5 stars.