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Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

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Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson



                This is the story of Walter McMillan, a man on death row in Alabama, awaiting an execution date for a murder he claims he didn’t commit. This is the story of Bryan Stevenson, a young, black lawyer who founded Equal Justice Initiative, in hopes of helping those who had fallen victim to an unjust legal system. This is the story of how Bryan Stevenson saved Walter McMillan from the execution chair by fighting for his freedom and revealing the holes in a case based off corrupt witness testimony, lies, and deceit. But this is also the story of many other people living behind bars, hoping for a chance at freedom, even though the odds are stacked against them.                 This book was absolutely incredible and extremely disheartening. Stevenson, in telling this story, reveals so much about what is wrong in our criminal justice. And he does it in such a way, that it is extremely hard to refute. He is full of …

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi




                This was a story that I began reading with the most basic of information and a whole lot of hype. I took my time getting to it. Part of me didn't know if I was mentally ready to read it, the other part of me didn’t want to be disappointed. I shouldn't have feared either. This book was amazing, beautifully crafted and extremely engaging. Homegoing is about a family separated. Sisters, that never knew each other, and how their fates would lead their descendants in two completely different directions. One would stay in Africa. The other a slave in America. But what would become of their children, and their children's children, and the many after that? This is a look back at history. This history of a people separated. One side staying home while the other can only look back unknowingly to a home they never knew.                 I've said before and I'll say it again, writing successful generational stories is hard. Gyasi though ex…

Imago by Octavia E. Butler

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Imago by Octavia E. Butler


This is how a story should end. This is how you bring all the different parts together, weave them together seamlessly and produce something new. The Ooankali weren't expecting to create a construct-ooloi and yet Johads is going through metamorphosis, its first, and will become the first construct-ooloi. What this will mean for its future and its ability to mate is yet to be seen. When I first started this trilogy I was constantly amazed by Butler's creativity and her ability to give so many details to not only the Ooankali but the world that was left after war destroyed life on Earth. With each book she added layers to the story that just increased the scope of this world and brought me to the brink of my imagination. Imago blends seamlessly into this world and takes a wholly unexpected turn that kept me intrigued and excited! One of things that I really loved about this series was the passage of time. Decades pass between the books and yet Butler mi…

Adulthood Rites by Octavia E. Butler

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Adulthood Rites by Octavia E. Butler



                Lilith has just given birth to the only human born, male construct on Earth. Akin looks human with brown skin and no tentacles except one on his gray tongue. His perception is amazing. Within days he can speak and because of his memory and Oankali senses he is very intelligent. But Akin, regardless of how intelligent he is, is still a child. The raiders took him from his village on Earth in hopes of trading with one of the resister villages. It is there, with the people who once knew his mother that Akin learns of his Human heritage and why they feel the need to continue to fight.                 Just enough time has passed between Dawn and Adulthood Rites for this to feel like a fresh start, with different challenges and circumstances. Lilith has now been living on Earth for years, and has been raising a family with her Oankali mates. The resisters live on Earth as well, having separated from the Oankali as soon as the opportunity a…

Dawn by Octavia E. Butler

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Dawn by Octavia E. Butler


                I love Octavia E. Butler. I can’t say that enough. I think she is a masterful storyteller. This book is no exception. It took me way too long to fall under the Butler spell and now that I have there is no turning back. Dawn is the first book in the Xenogenisis trilogy. In this novel you are introduced to Lillith, a survivor of a nuclear war on Earth. The Oankali rescued her and the rest of the survivors and placed them on their ship orbiting around Earth. Eventually they will return to Earth. Lillith has been chosen by the Oankali to act in the role of leader or mother, but first she must learn their ways, learn to survive and learn to teach others. All of this is for the trade. The Oankali will return the humans to Earth but they expect something from the humans in return.                 Disoriented. That’s how Lillith felt trying to understand the world she was now a part of and that’s how I felt in the beginning of the book. Simply off kilt…

Tampa by Alissa Nutting

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Tampa by Alissa Nutting



                Celeste seems to have a perfect life. Her husband is a police officer with an inheritance that allows them to live more than comfortably. She is an extremely attractive woman, who will begin her first teaching job in the fall. Everyone thinks they are really happy. But all Celeste really wants is for the school year to begin so she can be surrounded by fourteen-year-old boys and find that special one that she can do with as she pleases sexually. Celeste is well aware of the fact that she has to be careful, that no one will understand the way she prefers young men right on the cusp of puberty and that while others may find her husband attractive she simply sees him as a means to an end. Celeste has been looking forward to this for so long and then she finds him, Jack. Tampa is a complete mind fuck of a book. And I mean that in a good way. This book isn’t going to be for everybody and you will know very early on if this is a book that you can actua…

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

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The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin



And now the journey continues and the fight against Father Earth rages on. Essun and Nassun are both on the road now, one to destroy the world, the other to save it. Both struggling to make it to their destinations. Their companions remain faithful if not completely aware of their destinies and why. Each with a stone eater near, constantly watching. And throughout this, a story is being told. The story of how the seasons began, how the prisoners fought back and how the world was never the same. Well, if that's not how you are supposed to end a series then dammit, I've got nothing. This has such a satisfying ending, one that was completely unexpected and yet perfectly fitting. The Stone Sky picks up where The Obelisk Gate left off and the readers are thrown right back into a desolate world. I was wary from the beginning to find out where Nassun and Essun were going, if their paths would cross and how? The narratives changed between, Nassun in third …

Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

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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 Acor…

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

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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 …

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

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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 arou…

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

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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 grou…

Perfect Days by Raphael Montes

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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 loo…

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

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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…

Hunger by Roxane Gay

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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, a…

(My Second Time Around) Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

(My Second Time Around) Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell 

          The first time I read this novel was three years ago, in 2014, when my reading theme was evaluating banned books. I loved this novel. In my original review I commented about how “amazing, innovative, funny, well developed and brilliantly written” this novel was. I abhorred Scarlett, as I still do, as being “beautiful, self-centered, harsh, spiteful, bullheaded, strong.” I wrote about the relationships portrayed between owners and slaves. “In Gone With the Wind the loyalty of the slaves to many of the white families is evident and a source of pride for those slaves. It was interesting at the very least to read this depiction of life in the south after the Civil War.” I ended my review by stating that “there is no hiding the struggles that occurred, the language that was used, the maltreatment that people suffered, the change that happened because of that time in our history. At least with this novel, we are getti…

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas


                You may not be ready for this book. I thought I was ready and yet I still got punched in the gut. I heard all of the rave around THUG before it came out. I've had it for months and couldn't bring myself to read it. Now that I have I must recommend it to you. Before you read it though let me say that this is about as real as it gets. You may not want to read the words written on this page. They may make you feel some kind of way about race and privilege and police brutality. It may make you extremely uncomfortable. But it comes from a place that resonates with an experience many people go through. I know because I've gone through these emotions. The anger, the loss, the fear. I've felt the way this main character felt. I could have been the main character. And so could half of the people I've grown up with. Now it’s time for the review.                 Starr is from Garden Heights. She knows about gangs and living in th…

The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality by Julie Sondra Decker

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The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality by Julie Sondra Decker




                This book is an introduction to asexuality as a sexual orientation. It discusses not only what asexuality is but what is isn’t and goes to great lengths to help people understand the validity of asexuality as a sexual orientation and a way for people to identify themselves. So what is asexuality? Asexuality is an orientation describing people who don’t feel sexually attracted to anyone. It's possible to be heterosexual and asexual, homosexual and asexual, queer and asexual, trans and asexual, in a romantic relationship and asexual. Have questions about any of that? Pick up this book and educate yourself.                 I found this book to be extremely informative. Written by Decker who identifies as asexual and is able to rely not only on her own experiences but the available research lends an authenticity to this book that you wouldn't find from an outsider looking in. I loved her…

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin

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The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin


                Here you are. Time has passed and you have stayed in this place you have begun to consider home. Alabaster is with you, but he is dying and he has one final lesson to teach you, so you can understand why he brought on the fifth season. To understand why he is ending the world. Your daughter, Nassun, is alive and it’s been months since you've seen her. She is with Jija. He has not killed her but he hates that she is a rogga. His search for her cure brings him to the person that brought you to the Fulcrum and taught you what it means to fear someone you love.                 Well damn. If you loved The Fifth Season (which I unabashedly did) then you will absolutely love The Obelisk Gate. It is a perfect sequel. It takes up where The Fifth Season ended with little passage of time. But it starts with the past and the death of Uche at the hands of his father. This book fills in some of the gaps. You learn much more about Nassun and what h…

Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

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Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan


                One thing I love about people knowing I am an avid reader is that they always think of me when they are reading and they suggest books to me. One of my coworkers had mentioned this book to me stating “It’s about this guy who was helping Jews escape from Italy during World War II and he ends up joining the German army, becoming a driver for this General and then becoming an Ally spy.” I was sold. She brought me her copy of the book before she even had a chance to read the whole thing. I began reading the book and was immediately captivated by the story of a man I had never heard of before. Pino Lella was only seventeen years old when he began helping Jews escape into Switzerland. It was days before he turned eighteen that he joined the German army, at the urging of his parents who feared for his safety. After being injured, he had a chance encounter with General Leyers and became his driver. He then began relaying information to his…

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (Revisited)

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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
(Revisited)


                This is my second reading of The Handmaid's Tale and it's been almost four years since the first time around. I felt a need to return to this book and this story. Maybe because of the current politics. Maybe because I needed to realize what real-life horror could be. Maybe the furor around the TV adaptation influenced me. I'm not sure exactly why but I needed to reread this book. And so I did. This story was just as powerful and unsettling the second time around.                 This is the story of Offred. But it isn't just her story. It's the story of all the women in the Republic of Gilead who have no rights, no jobs, no money and a life completely determined by the men around them. Offred is a Handmaid. She has been sent to the Commander with only one purpose: to bear a child. In the time before she was married, had a child, had a job and her own bank account. But all of these things have been…

Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli

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Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli


It wasn’t until fairly recently that I noticed Harry, A History and I wasn’t at all interested. To be completely honest with you I just wasn’t sold on the idea of reading someone else’s experience as a Harry Potter fan. I had my own history with the books, one that I cherish and speak about to people shocked that a thirty year old woman still rereads the series every year. I just didn’t have the patience to indulge and I have so many books I want to read. Then one weekend I was visiting my in-laws and saw a copy of the book. My mother in law, who is also a huge Harry Potter fan, had ordered the copy months ago and had yet to read it. Sitting idly on the couch, I began reading the forward by J.K. Rowling. I must admit that my interest was piqued after seeing both her name and the fact that the author of this book was the webmistress of The Leaky Cauldron, a site I had frequented often for Potter news. Before I knew it I was chapter in and hooked. Just…

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

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Pachinko by Min Jin Lee



                It is extremely difficult to tell a multigenerational story that has a well-crafted plot, great world building, and amazing character development. Lee managed to not only master all those things but also include historical details and racial nuances that enhanced the story and described a culture. Pachinko begins in Korea in the early 1900s, the story of man crippled since birth, who marries a poor young girl whose father had too many daughters and few prospects. It then follows the growth of their family, his death and his daughter’s unexpected pregnancy. All around them the world is changing. Korea is now controlled by Japan, people are suffering because of their culture and uncertainty about the future looms. We follow this family through four generations. As the years pass, their lives change in unbelievable ways as wars come and go, their country is divided and their family survives.                 I don’t want to be purposefully vague but…

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty


                I usually read books before I watch any kind of on screen adaptation, as a rule, because I know that the book will be better than the adaptation. I broke that rule for Big Little Lies and dived head first into the HBO adaptation simply based on the casting. It took one episode for me to realize that I needed to read the book and immediately requested it from the library and became #141 in line for the next book. Needless to say I got my copy right after the season ended. I loved every episode and was very interested to see what had been changed in this adaption. Spoiler Alert: a lot had been changed but both were really enjoyable. Big Little Lies is the story of three very different women and their families, living in Australia. An incident occurs regarding one of their sons, tension occurs and the worst of the community rears its ugly head and battle lines are drawn. In the midst of these battle lines are all of the imperfections that…

Patternmaster by Octavia E. Butler

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Patternmaster by Octavia E. Butler


                And so it all ends. And it was so damn good! Okay, let me slow down and start with the beginning of this book. The Clay’s Ark disease is running rampant. The only people who exist now are those with the disease, those who hold the pattern and the mutes being controlled. The Clayarks and Patternist are basically at war. Teray is a son of the Patternmaster, Rayal, who is dying from the Clay’s Ark disease. Coransee is also a son of Rayal and now sees Teray as his biggest threat to obtaining the pattern once Rayal finally succumbs to the disease.                 There you have it. That is the backdrop for the final book in this series. I’m not going to try and go into the details of this book because they are too vast and I won’t be able to put into words everything going on, within the limits I want this post to be. What I will say is that this was a satisfying finale. This story spreads over hundreds of years. Many of the characters with…

Clay’s Ark by Octavia E. Butler

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Clay’s Ark by Octavia E. Butler

   Blake thought he would be safe with his daughters in their armored truck, even as they traveled out of their safe enclave. But when a man ripped open his locked door and threatened to kill his family everything changed. Blake knew these people were different. They were reading his body language, like they were reading his mind. They knew Keira was sick even if the strangers couldn’t deduce what was wrong. The strangers forced them to go to the ranch, kidnapping Rane, Blake’s other daughter and threatening them all if they didn’t follow. Eli, the leader of the ranch, made it clear that they couldn’t leave. That they would be infected like him, and everyone else at the ranch. The extraterrestrial organisms inhabiting Eli’s body would infect him too. Shockingly, the only way to keep any one at the ranch, and the world safe, would be for Blake and his family to stay. By then they were already infected.                 I have absolutely no idea how this no…

Mind of My Mind by Octavia E. Butler

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Mind of My Mind by Octavia E. Butler


                Centuries have passed since Dora and Anyanwu have met and chose to live harmoniously. A truce between the two of them to exist together even though they may disagree. Doro is close to getting what he always wanted. His descendants are growing in number and now there is Mary. He knew from the moment Mary was born that she would be different. An exceptionally strong telepath, something completely different than he had seen before. She would be the prize he was looking for, if she survived transition. What Doro wasn’t expecting was for her to form a pattern with some of his other telepaths after she transitioned. That those telepaths would be connected to her and that she would be able to control them in a way that even he could not. And that he would begin to see her as a threat.                 The Patternist series is just incredible. There is no other way around it. What Octavia E. Butler created with this series is a group of non-h…

Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler

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Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler


This is a story of power, unbelievable power and unexplainable beings. Doro has roamed the Earth for over three millennia, taking bodies as necessary and finding others with some form of power to breed and build colonies of people, his people, obedient, subservient, useful and different. Many would call them witches. Anyanwu was special. She had power the likes of which Doro had never seen before, able to not only control her shape and appearance but to heal. Alive for more than three hundred years Anyanwu had many husbands and bore many children but none with a power to rival her own. Two extremely powerful beings with motives that would never mix and one content to keep the other a slave.                 I don’t want to spoil anything but what follows is an intense power struggle, one based on morals and the concept of what it means to truly live and to truly love. Anyanwu is willing to sacrifice her freedom for the people she loves and for her descendan…