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Showing posts from 2018

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

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Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova


Alex comes from generations of Brujas and Brujos. Her mother and older sister, Lula are healers. Her younger sister, Rose, has the sight. Alex has powers too, powers she’s been trying to hide ever since her father left them. He saw what she could do and the next day he left and she has never said a word about what happened. Her sixteenth birthday is coming, and everyone has been waiting to see what her powers will be, when one day they explode out of her at school and Alex can know longer keep them under wraps. An encantrix, there hasn’t been one in the family for years. Now her Deathday celebration is coming and she makes the decision to try and stop her blessing. A decision that will cause her to lose her family in Los Lagos. Now she must travel there if she wants to save her family and the spirits of her ancestors. I read this book in a day and knew half way through that I would want to read the sequel as soon as I finished. This is an extremely wel…

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick

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In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
“The Essex disaster is not a tale of adventure. It is a tragedy that happens to be one of the greatest true stories ever told.”


It’s been at least a decade since I’ve read Moby Dick by Herman Melville. I remember being in high school and being absolutely captivated by the story. For the life of me I can’t remember when I found out that it was based off of a true story, but the moment I saw the preview for the movie adaptation of In the Heart of the Sea, I knew I had to read it. Now finally, years later, I have. It’s a somber book and as the quote above states, it isn’t a tale of adventure even though that may have been how it began. It did end up a tragedy, a tale of survival with very little hope, where men resulted to eating their crew members to survive. Philbrick does an incredible job telling the story of the whaleship Essex,the men on the crew and the huge sperm whale that would cause their demise. …

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli


I’m so glad I didn’t slip and see this movie before reading this book because I would have been so mad for not letting this plot develop the way it did in this book. No movie captures the book perfectly and this is definitely the details I craved. Simon is gay but no one knows that yet. No one but Blue. And now Martin because Simon forgot to logout of the school computer and Martin just happened to see them. Now he knows his secret and wants Simon's help or everyone will know. We call that blackmail. But in the midst of all that there is Blue. And the relationship that’s blooming even though neither of them have revealed who they truly are. High school can be tough, especially when you live in a family where everything is a big deal. And being gay in a small town like theirs outside of Atlanta could end up being the biggest deal yet. I enjoyed this book. It starts off slow but as the relationship between Simon and Blue grows and…

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

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From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Twinkle wants to make films that change the world. But right now, she is a nobody in high school who is losing her best friend Maddie to the popular crowd. Those are the rich kids while Twinkle’s family can’t even afford to buy her a cell phone. She has a crush on Neil who she thinks will elevate her status higher than a groundling, but does he even notice her. Then Maddie suggest Twinkle make a movie for their high school’s end of the year Midsummer Night festival and who volunteers to help produce this movie? None other than Sahil, Neil’s twin brother. When the two start to work together Twinkle has to manage her feelings for the two brothers, especially since she’s been getting emails from a secret admirer under the name N. Cue the high school drama and angst! This novel is riddled with it. And the insecurity that comes along with being poor and not able to afford the things that others can. Along with being on the bottom of the social totem …

The Curse of Oak Island: The Story of the World’s Longest Treasure Hunt by Randall Sullilvan

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The Curse of Oak Island: The Story of the World’s Longest Treasure Hunt by Randall Sullilvan



        The first time I ever heard of Oak Island was during an episode of "Ancient Aliens." This had been years ago. But the idea of this island with a buried treasure no one had ever been able to reach stuck with me. I googled it a time or two after first hearing about it but didnt search too much into it. I didn’t even know it now had a reality show so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out about this book discussing the history of the island and the latest developments.
        It’s a really interesting story. From the “discovery” of the what would be known as the money pit in 1795, to the search still taking place on the island now over 200 years later. Sullivan details what happened since the day a teenager canoed to the island until the reality show that exist now. There’s no denying in my opinion, especially after reading this book, that the structure is manmade. But I co…

In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents and Five Black Lives by Kenneth C. Davis

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In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents and Five Black Lives by Kenneth C. Davis


I have to start this review off by saying that this book is the type of U.S. History book that I gravitate towards, because it addresses the more problematic issues in the United States. This book in particular highlights slavery, but not just any slave story. This book looks at the lives of four presidents who were slave owners and discusses the lives of the slaves they owned. It’s sobering to read, especially when the presidents are men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, men of myth and legend who are the “framers” of the country. I was taught that these men could do no wrong. I’m glad to see that these myths are being ripped to shreds so we can see these men for who they truly are. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Andrew Jackson were all slave holders. Billy Lee, Ona Judge, Isaac Granger, Paul Jennings and Alfred Jackson were the names of…

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

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Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann



I’m not sure where would be the perfect place to start with this review. The story is that of Alice, a young Black woman coming into her adulthood, while also navigating being a biromantic asexual. The only people who know her sexuality are her best friends Fennie and Ryan, who also happen to be a couple and her new roommates. But as her attraction to Tamuki, the new guy at her job grows, so does her insecurities around how to proceed in a relationship when she enjoys romance and but doesn’t care about sex. I am doing the best I can here with this blurb, knowing full well that I really enjoyed this book from a heterosexual standpoint and am hoping that I am describing this clearly and thoughtfully because this book was really good. Let’s take a second to talk about representation quickly. I loved the way Kann discusses asexuality and the way Alice processes and describes her feelings. This book left a very clear impression on what it means to be ase…

Allegedly by Tiffany Jackson

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Allegedly by Tiffany Jackson


Mary has spent years in baby jail and now is staying in a group home for murdering baby Alyssa. Allegedly. She was nine the night Alyssa died. When the cops arrived at the home she was covered in mud, the baby had bruises all over here face and body. It’s been years and Mary hasn’t stopped thinking about Alyssa. She also never admitted to the crime. Her mom agreed to the plea deal of manslaughter on behalf of Mary. But now Mary has a different story to tell. She didn’t kill Alyssa but she knows who did. And if it means she’ll be able to keep the baby growing in her stomach, she is willing to tell everyone the truth. I regret that I started reading this book while visiting family. If I had been at home I would have finished this book in a day or two. It’s the kind of story that sucks you in right away but has a super dark tone and you spend the majority of the time trying to figure out what the truth it. I didn’t trust anyone and as much as I liked Mary I fe…

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

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Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao



Poornima was the oldest daughter. Her mother had passed years ago and she was the one who cared for not only her father but her brothers and sister. Savitha’s father was an alcoholic and her mother did the laundry for other people in their village. The two became friends when Savitha came to work for Poornima’s father. Both were poor and struggling but their friendship was filled with a love and trust that neither had known and both depended on. It wasn’t long before Poornima’s arranged marriage that Savitha fled from their village, a victim who was going to be forced into an even worse situation. But the two would always yearn for each other and the friendship they had, with paths crossing until they could find each other again. There are some books that I can’t stop reading because the plot is beautifully done. This is not one of those books. This is a book that I kept reading because the writing is beautiful. The plot was a lot darker than I expecte…

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss

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The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss



I heard about this book a few years ago. I have never read anything by Alexander Dumas but I feel like I’ve always known about his books. The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers had all been made into movies that I’ve browsed through or knew of. Not to mention The Man in the Iron Mask featuring those same musketeers and Leonardo DiCaprio, a movie that I have watched countless times over. I knew these characters for the most part but I had no idea what the inspiration might have been for them. Then I came across this book which states that Alexander Dumas’s dad, a Black man, was the novelist inspiration for much of his work and I became very intrigued. I had assumed that Dumas was white. Mostly because all of the depictions of his characters were white and because people usually make it a point to point out when an author is Black. I picked this book up with the intention of learning…

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

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Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

It’s 2018. I wish I could tell you that racism is no longer an issue in the world but if my life has taught me anything it’s that racism still exist, is prevalent and may not ever cease to exist. This book answers a lot of the questions as to how that is true in 2018. It discusses the type of racist though that has been so prevalent throughout history and the systems in place that have allowed racism to flourish. It’s comprehensive, easy to read and understand but it isn’t for the feint of heart. If you aren’t prepared to look at some extremely hard truths then you should probably step away from this type of book, one that refuses to dumb down the situation to make you comfortable. I’m glad I decided to read this book. It highlights quite a few different aspects of history that I wasn’t aware of. There were things in this book that I would want to research further. I liked the way Kendi chos…

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

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Bird Box by Josh Malerman


I have many, many thoughts regarding this book, but first I want to say that I really enjoyed Bird Box. This review might come off a little critical at times. I had to keep reminding myself to stop comparing this to other dystopian books that I’ve read and movies that I’ve seen. Overall this was an intensely disturbing novel, that has an extremely interesting premise and this really boils down to survival and trying to hold on to remnants of society even when no such society exists any longer. Malorie had just moved in with her sister Shannon when reports started coming in. It started in Russia and the videos would show people being randomly attacked. There were reports of people going into rages and attacking others or harming themselves. The reports began to trickle in from Alaska, then different areas of the northern part of the United States. Something was causing people to commit these acts, something they were seeing. People began covering their windows,…

Odd One Out by Nic Stone

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Odd One Out by Nic Stone



Courtney and Jupiter have been best friends since he moved into the house next door eleven years ago. And even though she proclaimed she was a lesbian years ago, that hasn’t stopped him from falling head over heels in love with her. Everyone knows them as Coop and Jupe. They’ve always been inseparable and none of his relationships have ever stood a chance because of how close they are. Then there was Rae, some girl Jupiter had been texting for a while. All three ended up being friends and while Jupiter may be developing feelings for her, Rae is trying to sort out her feelings for Cooper. And Jupiter. Love is complicated. Sexuality is complicated. Stone created a book that shows just how complicated and disorienting it can be figuring out your sexuality while also trying to be regular high school students. I really liked Coop, Jupe and Rae. They were extremely well developed and felt genuine. Each one is in a different place in their teenage lives but all three …

The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State by Nadia Murad

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The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State by Nadia Murad


Nadia Murad is the survivor of a genocide. She lived in a small village in Iraq called Kocho. She was born into Yazidism, a monotheistic religion spread in the oral tradition. It is a religion that you can only be born into. There are only about one million Yazidis alive in the entire world. The Islamic State captured her village, killed the men and kidnapped the women and children. Nadia and other Yazidi women were forced to become sabaya, sex slaves. She was sold and raped multiple times, by multiple men before escaping. Nadia is now a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. She travels telling her story and demanding justice for the Yazidi genocide taking place in Iraq at the hands of terrorist. I cannot imagine the strength it took to survive this. I cannot imagine the fear that one would experience during a genocide. This book tore me to pieces a…

The Bone and Sinew of the Land: America's Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality by Anna-Lisa Cox

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The Bone and Sinew of the Land: America's Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality by Anna-Lisa Cox



I don’t know if I have ever even stopped to think of the existence of Black pioneers. The image of a pioneer that automatically comes to mind are the images that I’ve been shown: white men and women, with their children in tow making their way across the land like in the old (and epically amazing) game “Oregon Trail.” That’s the history I’ve always been shown in school. It wasn’t until I was much older that I learned of the atrocities committed against Native Americans on that march West. And it isn’t until now that I’m learning about the existence of the courageous Black men and women who settled in the Northwest Territory, cultivated the land and became successful farmers.
Hundreds of Free Black men and women chose to settle in the Northwest Territory. They owned hundreds of acres of land and for a while, the men even had the right to vote. They started families, brav…

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

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Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

Sierra Maria Santiago should be finishing the mural at the Tower. Instead, she is heading to the first party of the summer, meeting up with some of her best friends and enjoying the end of the school year. Well, that was the plan. Until her grandfather tells her that she is a shadowshaper and that the weird kid at school that has drawings all over his clothes will help her finish the mural. Sierra has no idea what he is talking about. Her grandfather had a stroke a year ago, and has barely said anything coherent since. That is until tonight. But what does it even mean to be a shadowshaper? The people who know won’t give her a clear answer, and the night she asks Robbie she ends up being chased by a reanimated dead body known as a corpuscule. But shadowshapers use magic to help the dead and unknown to Sierra, she comes from a family of them and she will be part of the legacy.
Hold on to your garters because things happen quickly in this book. From very …

Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves edited by Glory Edim

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Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves edited by Glory Edim


I’ve always been a voracious reader. My mother used to read me bedtime stories at night and as soon as I learned how to read, more often than not you would find me with a book in my hands. There are two books that stand out that were an obvious reflection of me and my family: The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton and Pass It On: African American Poetry by Wade Hudson. Those two books had Black people on the covers, Black people on the pages and were about Black people. Those were the two books I would always go back to. Even after years of reading Goosebumps, Fear Street and Stephen King. Even after imagining myself as Hermione in Harry Potter and well into my teenage years I would still find myself randomly grabbing those two books and reading the pages that influenced me so much when I was young. Reading this anthology brought me back to those books even though it’s been over a decade since I’ve…

The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King

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The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King


What memories do I have of Fred Rogers? I remember his show and I remember puppets but I don’t remember much of the man. Regardless I was intrigued by this biography and the concept of learning more about this man, whose songs I remember but whose life I do not. I feel like everyone remembers the man in the cardigan but no one knew him. After reading this book I feel like I know him and more than that, I miss him. I wish that I had incorporated him into my child’s life at a young age. I wish I could remember the lessons he taught and the make belief neighborhood he created. King does an amazing job letting readers into the life of a man who cherished children and was so invested in their education. From his family, to his upbringing, to his passions and drives this book puts everything together and really emphasizes the things that made Fred Rogers the man he was. I would have never even considered the amount of work t…

Memphis, Martin and the Mountaintop by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

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Memphis, Martin and the Mountaintop by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

April 4th, 1968 is a day that is burned into memory of this country. It’s the day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered while standing on the balcony of the Memphis motel, Lorraine. I can recall those images clear as day even though I was born decades after the assassination happened. The man who spoke of his dream, was now dead. Memphis, Martin and the Mountaintop explains the events that led up to Dr. King’s death, the Memphis Sanitation Strike. Two Black men, Echol Cole and Robert Walker were killed while working as garbage collectors. Tired of working at poverty level, unable to be recognized as a union and afraid for their lives working in unsafe conditions the Black men working as garbage collectors in Memphis went on strike. This story, told through the eyes of Lorraine a woman recounting her days as child, details what it was like during those times. Lorraine remembers seeing her fath…

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

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Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds


Told in verse Long Way Down is the story of Will, a fifteen-year-old boy who just lost his brother, Shawn, in a shooting. His mother is in mourning and he is convinced he needs to follow the rules and go after the guy he knows killed Shawn. Grabbing the gun his brother hid in the middle dresser drawer, Will leaves his apartment and takes the most important elevator ride of his life. This book speaks to a certain mentality. A hood mentality. It’s one of the rules in this book, get revenge. The problem with getting revenge is that the cycle never stops. That’s the lesson Will hasn’t learned yet. It’s the lesson all the people that join him in the elevator are trying to teach him. Reynolds laid this theme out so succinctly, never wasting a word, a moment, a page. Not a lot of world building goes into an elevator, yet and still I was in that elevator with Will and quite a bit happens. It’s an incredible and chilling ride, laced with a truth so many young peop…

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

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Dread Nation by Justina Ireland




Dread Nation is an alternate history novel where the Civil War ended because the dead started to rise on the battlefields, biting and infecting the living. The undead plague had begun. It’s been over ten years since the deathless began roaming the Earth and some of the land has been given up for good. The shamblers outnumber the living and they have become such a threat that the land has simply been abandoned. Large cities like Baltimore have built walls protecting themselves. The wealthy hire Attendants from schools like Ms. Preston’s School of Combat where Jane McKeeney, a seventeen-year-old Negro girl is being trained to kill the shamblers. Ever since the Negro and Native Reeducation Act has been passed, all of the Native and Negro children have to learn to fight in order to earn a living. But a family near the school has gone missing and everything isn’t what it seems in Baltimore county. This novel is a lot to take in. The idea that the Civil War en…