Posted in Review

Review: T.H.U.G by Angie Thomas

aka The story that was long overdue

 

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.                          
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.                                              
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life

 

 

 

I have been putting off reading this book for the LONGEST while. For one thing, this book has been hyped af before it was even published and we know that doesn’t always go well. I was scared as hell that the hype would be fake. Secondly, the topic that Angie covers is HARD, so I needed to get into a mental space that would be able to give the book its just due. But, I figured that Black History Month was as good a time as any.

 

I really want to do this one justice.

 


 

“Goddamn, it’s always some drama with you.”

The Characters

 

Starr Carter

Here’s what you NEED to know about her: she loves Tupac, she has to live a dual life where one side of her is allowed to be real and the other side has to be tame and ‘refined’. I understand all of the decisions she’s made throughout the book, because so much of her reality is actually what life is like for a lot of us who are in the minority.

 

“He was more than any bad decsion he made”

 

Khalil

Stereotypes are a bish, because they give people the idea that their assumptions are correct. Most times these assumptions start from our very own people which gives outsiders the implied permission to do the same. Khalil didn’t stand a chance at winning public sympathy. He is black. He is an assumed drug dealer. That’s all he needed to be deemed worthy of that bullet.

He is Philando Castile, he is Tamir Rice, he is Trayvon Martin, he is all of us. Honestly, even though he makes ‘all the wrong choices’ during the police stop, I cannot help but feel for him. This was a blatant overreaction rooted in an irrational fear of the black man. It hurts and it’s aggravating as all hell.

I especially enjoyed the fact that he was such a flawed character. He wasn’t an innocent flower but he wasn’t the demon that the media was making him out to be either. We all do what we think we have to in order to survive.

 

Chris/Hailey

The two versions of white people in these types of situation. Yes, I’m going to generalize here, cuz I can! There’s Chris, who is GENUINELY trying, and is openminded and not latently or intentionally racist. He wasn’t my favourite but I understood him.

 

Then there are the Haileys of the world that would make jokes about fried chicken and Chinese people eating cats, then blame YOU for being offended. Like, girl! Try not to be so insensitive next time?! Can the Hailey’s of the world just…go somewhere far, far away. So isolated from the rest of us that we forget about them and their ugliness.

 

Kenya/Maya

Starr’s most real POC friends, from both sides of her world. At first I felt that Kenya was too harsh on our girl, but, it was what Starr needed to break out of her fear and start fighting back. Kenya is that token character that every protagonist needs to push them to make the hard decisions. The one that will hurt their feelings, but it’s “for your own good” so you can’t possibly be mad…right? Just like All of the characters in this book, she is flawed and extreme. But I liked it. Doesn’t mean I could be friends with her though  we would argue constantly, and that is nooooot healthy so…pass.

Maya is the calmer version of Kenya. That quiet support system that also calls you out, but much less harshly. At first I wasn’t sure if she was down for the cause or just one of Hailey’s drones, but then she showed her hand. She is my pick for a character I’d love to hear more from.

 


 

Moral of the story, somewhere out there, there are real people that can fit into the mold of Angie’s characters. This ish is REAL. Also, ALSO(!), I despiiiised Mr. Lewis in the beginning and he only redeemed himself at the very end of the book. When you get to that point you’ll get what I mean on both fronts.

 

“Why did they shoot him?” Seven asks. “Was he a threat or something?”

 

The Plot

 

If you watched the news at all throughout 2016 to now (before that if we’re being honest), you couldn’t miss what was happening. Black people, black men, throughout the US were being killed by the police, unjustly, with NO repercussions for the officers. This book novelizes that reality, to a tee. You could definitely see the book pan out before your eyes if you pay even a little bit of attention, or if you’ve paid attention to current events.

 

So, if you don’t like when things can be predicted, I’m sorry.

 

But…BUT, even though I could see how things would go, the journey was worth it in my opinion. There was satisfactory development and enough stress-free moments that you would temporarily forget the serious subject matter.

 

Angie Thomas highlights something that I think it’s important to take note of, the fact that it is ALWAYS the minority’s fault. Always. Regardless of the circumstances, whether they are the aggressor or the victim, participant or not. She also reminds us that these ‘thugs’ are still somebody’s loved one. Somebody, somewhere, is hurting over this loss, and no matter what we will NEVER have the full story. Unless you are that person left hurting, and even then, there may be a side that you wouldn’t have seen.

 

 

“If I kill Tyrone, I’m going to prison. If a cop kills me, he’s getting put on leave. Maybe.”

 

 

My Thoughts

 

Can we have the movie now? Like, I wasn’t even one-quarter of the way through this important, wonderful piece of literature, and I KNEW that the movie would be everything that I wanted. Honestly, getting this, Black Panther and Love, Simon in the same year would make 2018 the best one to date (cinematically).

 

Okay, now that I’ve begged for the movie schedule to be increased, my ACTUAL thoughts.

 

Giving in to the rage, no matter how justified, or how good it feels in the moment, can and most certainly will come back to hurt you. But, BUT, that doesn’t mean you ought to sit back and do nothing. Find a way to make the situation right and let your voice be heard.

 

I loved all of the character growth. Starr is finally comfortable enough to be her true self with her Williamson family, DeVante grows up and we get to see the other side of Khalil. All necessary for a fully fleshed out storyline.

 

I can’t change where I come from or what I’ve been through, so why should I be ashamed of what makes me, me?

 

With all the pressure I put on myself for this one, I hope I made sense and didn’t psych myself out. It was probably just an incoherent mess, but…please don’t tell me if it is. This is the best I could do with all my emotions fighting against each other as they are.

 

*You should probably watch Luke Cage and Black Lighting while you wait for the movie. I mean, you don’t have to but…you SHOULD.


TL;DR

This one is definitely worth the hype. Even if BLM isn’t your ‘thing’, you’ll get something out of this. This is a book that everyone should read.

 

Goodreads: 4.58

Amazon: 4.8

Barnes & Noble: 4.8

 

My rating: 5 yaas bish stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in ARC Review

ARC Review: If I Die Before I Wake – Emily Koch

aka the time I suspected everyone is guilty, including our MC.

 


 

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Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: January 11th 2018 by Harvill Secker

 

How Do You Solve Your Own Murder?

Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen.

But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger.

As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go.

 

Imagine having to solve your own murder. How terrible, and painful, and frightening that would be. Trying to piece together memories, overheard conversations and basic intuition. Having to rule out the people you knew and once trusted, and having to stand by as your family, your life, the world moved on without you. Poor Alex.

Also, don’t expect too much coherency in this one, because this one scrambled my brain for a while. Continue reading “ARC Review: If I Die Before I Wake – Emily Koch”

Posted in Review

Review: They Both Die at the End

AKA I cry at the end

 

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On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

 


 

Before I go into the specifics of this book, there is just one thing that I want to say: If you don’t mind SEVERE heartbreak, then you’re fine. It is a beautiful piece of work, but it can break you down just as quickly as it builds you up.

 

Here lies Mateo, he lived for everyone

 

There’s one song that I kept hearing in my head as I read certain parts of this book: Heaven by Beyonce. That is one of the most heartwrenching songs that she’s ever sung and it’s bittersweet tone works so well with Rufus and Mateo’s stories.

 

We laughed at the darkness,

so scared that we lost it,

we stood on the ceilings,

you showed me love was all you needed

 

HOOK

But heaven couldn’t wait for you

No heaven couldn’t wait for you

Heaven couldn’t wait for you 

No heaven couldn’t wait for you

So go on, go home

 

Continue reading “Review: They Both Die at the End”

Posted in ARC Review

ARC Review: Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

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The only thing more dangerous than a lie…is the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father’s murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay. The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

 

TW: Suicide & suicidal thoughts, heavy drug & alcohol usage.


 

Trouble is the only thing that occurs between midnight and sunrise.

 

Alright folks, are you ready for this one?

I’m going to try to give this some semblance of order, so let’s talk about:

 

The Characters

Josie

When we first meet our MC she appears to be living the perfect life: a career that she enjoys, a man that she loves and loves her equally, a beautiful home and a quiet, unassuming life. Until Poppy Parnell.

But those are just appearances. What I’ve found instead is that Josie is infuriating, has poor judgement, selfish. She certainly doesn’t deserve Caleb and he doesn’t deserve any of what she put him through.

 

Poppy

Our Podcaster/Investigative Journalist/Human Scum. As far as antagonists go, Poppy is right up there, not because she is superiorly evil. No, she earns her place on the list because her type of evil exists in the real world: apathy. Her sole focus was ‘getting the story’ and she didn’t care if she ruined lives along the way; her disregard was infectious. Her followers were vicious and just as relentless as she is. No memory or moment is sacred.

Poppy Parnell is an example of the worst kind of human and the worst sides of modern humanity.

 

Lanie

Her storyline interested me more than Josie’s and I would’ve been more intrigued by her POV. But, she is a brat so maybe I might’ve DNF’d if I had to much of her, I don’t know.  Also, Ann is precious and she needs to be protected AT ALL COSTS!

The rocky relationship between these two sisters is our central focus, whether you care about that or not. I think they couldn’t get along because they are both so self-absorbed and selfish that they couldn’t see beyond their own suffering to realize that the other was suffering as well.

 

As someone who only has a brother, I could not IMAGINE going ten years without speaking to someone who shares my DNA let alone a twin, regardless of the hurt. But, people react differently to pain so…who am I to judge?

 

The Plot

 

 

I really enjoyed the idea of the podcast, and it was interesting seeing it portrayed. That element of the book was exactly what I wanted when I chose this book. The investigation is run in real time, so as soon as Poppy has new information, she shares it with her listeners and each new revelation usually coincides with a new memory/perspective for the sisters.

This podcast, and the reaction to it, is a clear look at what our internet personas have become, how desensitized to human suffering, hungry for the next THING to go in on. Poppy and her followers are out for blood and they don’t care who’s lives they destroy in the process.

As far as the Buhrman family is concerned I can only imagine that this would be a horrible way to find out that someone is digging into a family scandal. Just when you’ve managed to find some measure closure and peace of mind, the hurt is brought to the surface.

 

 

Noteably, Josie begins questioning what she knows to be true very early on which could only mean that on some level she’s always felt that something was missing. This sense of hidden deception is central to the plot and carries on throughout the entire book. It is the thread that holds the story together.

 

She’s going to be just as dead if I’m there as she is if I’m here

 

The quote above resonated with me. Her relationship with the ‘she’ in question was so damaged that she felt her presence was unnecessary. How sad.

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts

 

 

And then someday, maybe I would finally stop lying to the man I loved

 

 

The mystery – I had theories, well A theory, which turned out to be so close to the ACTUAL truth that I can’t share it with you. So, as far as deep mysteries go, this ain’t that. If you pay close enough attention to Poppy’s podcasts and the little snippets that Josie and Lanie’s memories give you the answer. No need to think too hard.

 

 

 

 

 

My stomach dropped as I looked from the ghost-like shell of my mother to my wild, thrashing sister. What had happened to these two women who I loved so much?

 

 

Pros –  Final Girls vibe – which I loved – where our MC tries to disasocciate with her true identity to ‘move on’ with her life, but having it all return to the public eye after several years.

It was a quick read, that kept you captivated while you’re reading. For me, I was interested in knowing what caused such a significant rift between the sisters and between Lanie and the other women in her family.

 

 

 

You have to take care of the people you love…or you lose them.

 

 

Cons – Josie had so many opportunities to tell Caleb the truth and she talked herself out of it EVERY TIME. It was INFURIATING! But when the truth finally came out, well I’ve never enjoyed a MC’s pain quite so much and I couldn’t muster up an ounce of care that she’s hurting over Caleb’s reaction. Also, this was resolved too easily, imo.

I haaaate the trope where: emotional termoil and your life ‘falling apart’ equals the female protagonist MUST CUT ALL HER HAIR OFF OR SPIN INTO THE ABYSS. It’s not a big deal, but, it irritates me.

Not enough focus on the actual case. I felt misled, because I thought I was here for a full on investigation.

 


TL;DR – If the book you’re searching for is one that is a gripping mystery that’s light on ‘other’, then this isn’t the one for you. However, if you don’t mind some light mystery solving and a lot of family drama, then pick this one up.

Amazon: 4.3

B&N: 3.9

Goodreads: 3.81

My rating: 3 stars

 

Dee ^_^

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in ARC Review

ARC Review: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

AKA The time Cinderella was a food truck worker.

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Anything can happen once upon a con…

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReIysb0Knzc

 


 

Hello, ah’blenas.

Here’s what you need to know:

  Modern day fairy tale retelling (CINDERELLA)

  Cosplay

  Nerd culture and

  Fanfiction praise.

 

All I needed to hear to pick this up was fairy tale retelling, the fanfiction praise was simply a bonus. Because this world could use a little more whimsy, or at least I sure could.

 

Sometimes the universe delivers.

 

Now, before we begin the actual review, let me say this. THERE WERE EMOTIONS, lots of them, and not all of them were pleasant. These are the best kinds of books, and I need more of them. Immediately. IMMEDIATELY.

Without further adieu, I give to you

◊ GEEKERELLA ◊

 

 

While reading this book I felt:

– The warm and fuzzies                                                                        – Intrigue

– Heartbreak                                                                                           – Confusion

– Exasperation                                                                                        – Longing and anticipation

– Loathing

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the characters (read: teenagers other than the stepsisters and their clique) were likeable. Without a doubt my favorite character was Sage. She is fiesty, loyal and creative. If she were the main character I wouldn’t complain. There was nothing about her that I didn’t like.

On the otherhand, my favorite part about Elle is the strength she gets from fandom and the show itself. It is beautiful and inspiring and I JUST LOVED IT! Darien’s lack of real world experience was adorable to witness. Such a sheltered little thing.

 

But evil rarely looks like evil should.

 

Sometimes I’m really oblivious, so the Fairy Godmother parallel went over my head for the longest, almost halfway in to be exact. Other times, I’m able to see the twists coming from a mile off, like Darien’s resident stalker. I appreciated that this book didn’t require deep thinking nor did it dwell too long on any one thing. It made for quick and easy reading (for the most part).

If you’re looking for a fluffy meet-cute this is not the book for you. There are no meet-cutes in store for any of these characters, but that’s okay too, because the relationships that we do get are more realistic without it.

Even without the meet-cutes at about 72% the warm and fuzzies were battling for frequency with the heart break. There was a point where I had to put the book down for a few days…you’ll know when you get to that point, because it’s expected but…sigh. Then in the very next moment I’m grinning so wide I look a bit manic.

 

There’s just me, stranded on the wrong side of everything that I love.

I had fun reading this book and it stayed true to Cinderella’s story. Our overworked and underloved female lead falls for the charming and charmed male lead in a twist of fate that only happens in fairy tales. Bravo.


 

TL;DR

This book, in one word, can be described as cute. I would recommend this book to lovers of fairy tales, anyone who likes YA romances, and those of us who identify as geeks/nerds or fangirls(boys).

 

 

My rating: 4 stars

Goodreads: 4.1 stars

Amazon: 4.3 stars

Barnes & Noble: 4.2 stars

 

Have you read it? What are your thoughts?

 

Dee ^_^