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review 2017-07-24 23:51
All American Boys
All American Boys - Brendan Kiely,Jason Reynolds

All American Boys follows two young men - one African American, one Caucasian - after an incident of racist police brutality.  Rashad, who is innocent, is beaten severely enough to be hospitalized by a White police officer who claimed he was stealing a bag of chips from a convenient store.  Quinn observes the incident and then struggles with whether to let people know that he was there.

 

Set in a generic small city or large town named Springfield, the story could be taking place anywhere in today’s America.  I’ve been hearing about this book from teacher and librarian bloggers since its release in 2015 and thought it would be a good fit for the optional 4th of July Booklikes-opoly Americana book selection.

 

Co-authored by African American author Jason Reynolds and Caucasian author Brendan Keily, All American Boys could qualify as an #OwnVoices book.  However, I feel like All American Boys was written more as a parable to explain to Caucasian readers why this topic is important than as a book for African American readers to see themselves.  While I found the book compelling, at times All American Boy almost crosses the line to polemic and the moralizing is a bit too blatant to these adult eyes.

 

In the end, All American Boys is a timely memorial to Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Tarika Wilson, Keith Childress and the countless other young African Americans who are disproportionately dying at the hands of police. Despite my quibbles, All American Boys admirably serves as a potential avenue to start the conversation with young adults about this complex topic.

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review 2017-07-24 22:43
The Warrior Woman
The Woman Warrior - Maxine Hong Kingston

In the world of memoirs, this one was a little difficult for me to rate. I was confused for a decent portion of it, not sure whether this was fiction or nonfiction at times. I had chosen it as part of the Read Harder Challenge for this year, task 17: read a classic by a woman of color. I suppose I could have counted Kindred but I didn't realize that it was written in 1979 until I was actually reading it and had already listed this memoir as my option for the challenge. Besides, I prefer using nonfiction for challenges anyway.

That said, I did eventually wander back over to the Goodreads and Amazon pages for this book and get it figured out.

As a whole, the book really was an amazing look into being the first US-born children of Chinese immigrants. There are flavors to the story that are familiar with my own experience of being the first US-born generation in my family too. The stories from where the family is from that don't make quite make sense in the US and the feeling of having lost so much in the migration are things that I grew up with too. I could relate to it without feeling like I already knew what was going to happen.

Here is a little bit about each story:

No Name Woman - this is the story of an aunt of Kingston's who had died back in China. She had been scorned for becoming pregnant while her husband was away and the entire family was forced to deal with the aftermath. Her mother told her of the story as a morality tale but Kingston also offers quite a bit of introspection about what it must have been like to be her aunt and what it must have been like to be a woman in China under those circumstances. She decomposes the story a bit too, rooting through for wholes in her mother's account. Set in China, it is one of the stories that showcase her heritage and the way that heritage can continue to effect even those of us not born in those countries.

White Tigers - this is the one that totally threw me for a loop. It's also written in the introspective memoir style but is actually one of the "talk stories" her mother told her and is delivered in the first person. I was so confused and kept looking at the info to make sure that this was definitely listed as non-fiction. I don't know, maybe I was just not paying an adequate amount of attention to catch it at the time because I hadn't realized from the last story that she wasn't even born in China and the entire story also takes place there. It's a great story and one that I understand her being captivated by, but it isn't her story nor does it appear to be based on one of her ancestors.

Shaman - I think this was my favorite. I love the idea of women making a great situation out of something that begins less than favorable. This takes place before Kingston is born and is about her mother deciding to be a doctor in China while her father is in the US making money. He makes more than enough to send home and for the mom to be comfortable at home, but she wants to do more with the money. Not only can I appreciate that sentiment but the very idea of going back to school after so long and how she becomes a great doctor are intriguing and uplifting.

At the Western Palace - I just love her mother so much. I get how it may have been a little hard to live her sometimes, but I love her attitude about things. My mother was much the same way. Go get what's yours. Don't take an unnecessary amount of crap from people. If life disappoints you, figure it out and move on. This story isn't actually about her mother, it's about an aunt but her mother is the larger image in it. She brings the aunt to the US after her husband never asks her to and then there's a some drama about the husband and the story is told from the point of view of Kingston herself who is just a little too young to really understand what's happening.

She understands, but doesn't grasp the gravity of the situation. She doesn't understand why it's such a big deal for the aunt and why she is so timid and so broken. Still, she gives the reader enough to see it and to feel for her aunt while also giving us a feeling of how alone she must have been with the rest of the family not understanding her. It says a lot about how culture does or does not migrate with the people who come from it.

A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe - finally we get to Kingston's own story. I did appreciate her story being the last once I understood the format because I can also understand the people around her. It would have been like reading the New Testament of the Bible without reading the Old Testament first, or even know what the Ten Commandments were. Her family and the other Chinese around her would have made less sense. I was a little horrified in the scene with the silent girl but kids can be cruel. On the other hand, I loved everything that came after her yelling at her parents to not marry her off. I cracked up at her mother's response to that.

I had looked over some other reviews when I was trying to figure out what was going on and it seems like this is generally a love it or hate it kind of book. I loved each story and would have loved for it to be advertised more as a collection of personal stories or life stories from a single person. It does paint a good overall picture of what the experience can be like to migrate to the US from China in that timeframe. It can be hard to remember what the threat of communism was like then and how countries that were engrossed with it treated their people. I am just old enough to remember seeing coverage of the Berlin Wall going down. I am also the first US born of people who came here to escape the devastating effects of communism. It's hard to explain to the younger generation now just what it meant. For that, I will endlessly appreciate this book and that it appears to have been brought into American literature classes.

Not only is the book about figuring out culture and heritage and what it means to live somewhere that you don't share the heritage, but it's also entirely about relationships among women. It's about her unnamed aunt and society and the ways that she is allowed to be remembered or not. It's about her relationship with her mother, her relationship to other Chinese children, her mother's relationship with both her own sister and her niece, her relationship to the legends of past Chinese women and the hopes of Chinese women contemporary to her.

There is one tiny problem though, and it's pointed out by almost every single person who I saw that didn't like this book. She does have a way of generalizing the Chinese. I get it, though, because I have generalized Cubans. I actually had to be taught to not do it by people like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the danger of a single story. I had lumped all Cubans into a single version of the refugee story and that's just grossly untrue. Likewise, Kingston makes it sound like all Chinese do this or that or don't do this or that.

But then again, this was written well before my time. I also recognize that there have been times in the US when it was hard to set a people behind unifying themes and ideas. I recognize that there have been times when it has been necessary to make distinctions that WE are like this and not that. Perhaps that was a part of the intended purposes of all those generalizations. Perhaps, it was important to Kingston to make a claim on what is or can be Chinese vice what is or can be Asian as a whole or vice what is or can be any other group. I don't know.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-07-24 22:07
Attraverso questi occhi - N.R. Walker,Pandora

Rieccomi qui, dopo pochissime ore dalla recensione di Fiducia Cieca a cercare di riordinare i pensieri per riuscire a non impazzire come una fangirl isterica e scrivere quattro righe sensate (see come no) su questo benedetto sequel. Dopo aver finito il primo volume mi sono ritrovata a lottare con sentimenti contrastanti, c'era una parte di me che voleva, tre secondi dopo aver letto l'ultima riga, buttarsi a capofitto nel seguito per continuare a sognare con Carter e Isaac e... un'altra parte molto meno ottimista che mi pregava di scappare lontano e fingere che quello che avevo appena concluso fosse un romanzo singolo. Chi mi conosce sa della mia costante lotta interiore riguardo ai sequel. Ci sono due parti che mi caratterizzano... la parte più masochista e cattiva della mia anima che li invoca sempre a gran voce, poco importa se si tratta di un libro perfettamente autoconclusivo, un film con un inizio e una fine coerente o una serie tv di 50 anni prima, la malvagia Giada sente il bisogno di vedere un continuo, ritrovare i vecchi e amati personaggi con l'illusione che i sequel possano dare un qualcosa in più alla storia, e poi... la controparte buona, la Giada razionale che si rende conto di quanto spesso i seguiti siano per lo più porcherie immonde nate solo per lucrare su prodotti più o meno famosi. Per questo mio perenne scontro interiore sono sempre indecisa se gioire o tagliarmi le vene ogni volta che leggo "volume 2" e devo sempre meditare mille anni prima di decidere se accontentarmi del primo libro e immaginare un finale nella mia testa o iniziare il volume ufficiale e rischiare di morire dentro per le scelte mortalmente no sense e sbagliate dello scrittore di turno... per questo dilemma amletico, questa guerra mondiale dentro di me, ho iniziato la nuova lettura con dubbi, aspettative a mille e fin da subito la convinzione che ci sarei rimasta male anzi... malissimo. Fortunatamente per una volta devo battere sulla spalla alla Giada "coraggiosa" e sognatrice perché posso ritenermi soddisfatta di aver continuato la conoscenza di Isaac e del suo innamorato, questo perché Attraverso questi occhi è un sequel emozionante, coinvolgente e riesce a superare in bellezza il primo romanzo. Evento di questi tempi più unico che raro. Ci ritroviamo mesi dopo gli eventi del primo libro, Isaac e Carter sono ancora fidanzati e innamorati e stanno cercando di trovare un equilibrio nella loro storia d'amore. Ed è proprio la ricerca di una stabilità di coppia e della propria identità fuori e dentro la coppia che caratterizza questo secondo capitolo. Il primo romanzo ci aveva permesso di conoscere i due ragazzi, apprezzarli nei loro difetti e virtù, facendoci conoscere il loro mondo o meglio... una piccola parte di esso. In questo secondo volume ritroviamo tutto quello che non avevamo visto, in Fiducia Cieca il mondo sembrava quasi un posto magico, non c'erano momenti veramente drammatici, sembrava di vivere quasi in un piccolo angolo di paradiso che in questo libro dimostra essere tutt'altro che idilliaco. Veniamo infatti a conoscenza di tutti i problemi che Isaac deve vivere ogni giorno, veniamo bruscamente ributtati nella realtà, una realtà tutt'altro che rosea. Ritroviamo un Isaac sempre più insicuro e alle prese con il mondo che lo circonda, eventi spiacevoli lo porteranno ad interrogarsi sul suo rapporto con Carter e ad affrontare la sua condizione. Per tutto il romanzo veniamo trascinati nel mondo di Isaac, viviamo la disperazione che nel primo libro avevano solo potuto palpare, il modo in cui Isaac cerca costantemente e disperatamente di mettersi un ulteriore maschera per l'uomo che ama, dopo essere riuscito ad aprirsi e innamorarsi, buttare giù il muro che lo imprigionava e impediva di innamorarsi e aprirsi al mondo, si ritrova vittima del suo amore folle, puro e disperato, ritroviamo un Isaac in crisi, senza fiducia in se stesso che ricorre a una nuova maschera, un nuovo muro per mostrarsi un uomo normale, vuole disperatamente essere perfetto, raggiungere la perfezione che solo gli occhi dell'amore, gli occhi di Carter riescono a cogliere e per questo si ritroverà a sbagliare, a rischiare di rovinare tutto e buttare all'aria tutto ciò che con il tempo ha faticosamente costruito, a rischiare di buttare quel prezioso anno nel cestino ferendo e distruggendo il fidanzato. Troviamo un Isaac umano, vero, palpabile con cui soffrire, stare male, emozionarsi.
Anche Carter è più umano, più fragile, nel primo romanzo era stato il cavaliere, quasi senza macchia che proteggeva Isaac, in questo secondo romanzo invece questa sua perfezione scompare, quella corazza da guerriero si spezza, si ritrova a dover affrontare l'uomo di cui è innamorato, a sopportare spesso le sue parole crudeli, la rabbia di un uomo che si sente inutile e impotente, di un uomo che viene considerato dal mondo un cittadino di seconda classe, non adatto neanche a testimoniare contro un criminale che lo ha derubato, si ritrova ad affrontare il dolore, la solitudine a cui spesso il compagno lo costringe, a vivere in una casa che talvolta non sente neanche come propria, è costretto a combattere contro le insicurezze di Isaac e le proprie, nella vita della coppia comparirà infatti Joshua, collega di Isaac con il quale il fidanzato instaurerà subito un rapporto di amicizia e questo sarà solo uno dei problemi che dovrà affrontare. Vivrà momenti duri, rivivrà il dolore e la paura che ha provato per il tradimento del suo ex e sarà costretto a cadere, spezzarsi e rialzarsi, risorgere dalle sue ceneri, lottare per riuscire a salvare l'animo tormentato e la vita di Isaac. Questo libro è molto forte, molto più forte rispetto al primo capitolo e anche se non mancano i momenti più dolci e piccanti in molte parti mi ha stremato... il realismo con cui N.R. Walker ha creato i suoi personaggi è impressionante e non mi è stato possibile non empatizzare completamente, soprattutto nei momenti più "forti". Ero letteralmente in lacrime quando ho visto Isaac affrontare Carter e dirgli che desiderava tornare a vedere anche solo una volta per poter ammirare il volto della nipotina appena nata, quando ho visto Isaac commiserarsi e compiangere la sua condizione prendendosela con l'unica persona che dava luce al suo mondo oscuro, colpendo il compagno a morte con la sua cattiveria e disperazione, quando Carter si è ritrovato annientato di fronte a una casa che non era più la sua, a una vita che non era più la sua. Posso dire che rispetto al primo le lacrime sono scese a fiumi e sapendo fin da subito che di certo questo libro sarebbe finito bene, con un bel happy ending e non avrebbe di certo emulato Romeo e Giulietta con morte e distruzione beh... mi sento un po' stupida all'idea delle lacrime da coccodrillo però... va bene così. Quando un romanzo riesce a farti piangere ed emozionare ha sicuramente fatto il suo lavoro. 
Nel corso del libro ritroveremo vecchie conoscenze e oltre ai due fidanzatini riabbracceremo anche la sorellona Hannah e il marito Carlos, che finalmente si espone un po' di più, che ci regaleranno bei momenti familiari e una dolcissima nipotina, il pazzo Mark con la sua lingua lunga e i due fedeli cagnoloni 
Faremo anche la conoscenza di nuovi personaggi come il detective incaricato del furto ai danni di Isaac, un uomo a tratti con poco tatto che aiuterà però la coppia al momento giusto e Joshua, che vi sfido a non voler sgozzare dopo tre secondi. Questo romanzo è incantevole e perfetto sotto ogni punto di vista e riesce a completare perfettamente la storia senza annoiare o cadere nel ridicolo come altri seguiti.
Se avete amato Fiducia cieca adorerete alla follia questo secondo capitolo che conclude le vicende della coppia (in quanto il terzo romanzo sarà dedicato al mio amato Mark). Non posso fare altro che consigliarvelo caldamente... insieme a un abbondante scorta di Kleenex perchè se siete come me.... vi assicuro che ne avrete bisogno... tantissimo!

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review 2017-07-24 21:45
Piąte dziecko
Piąte dziecko - Doris Lessing

Historia niesamowicie mnie wciągnęła. Kobieta jest zmuszona wybierać między dziećmi. Sama zastanawiam się jak bym postąpiła w podobnej sytuacji. 

Bohaterowie powieści Harriet i David Lovattowie są idealną parą. Po ślubie kupują ogromny dom i chcą mieć liczną rodzinę - przynajmniej ośmioro dzieci. Wbrew możliwościom finansowym realizują plan i kolejne dzieci pojawiają się na świecie. Ich wiktoriański dom staję się centrum wokół którego toczy się życie rodziny. Wszystko się zmienia, gdy Harriet zachodzi w nieplanowaną ciążę. Ma przeczucie, że z ciążą i dzieckiem coś jest nie tak. W końcu na świat przychodzi Ben. Fizycznie zdrowy, ale bardzo silny chłopiec. Niczym nie przypomina innych dzieci. Jest odmieńcem, agresorem i potworem. 

O książce nie da się tak łatwo zapomnieć. A trudna historia jest napisana prostym językiem. Naprawdę bardzo polecam. Warto przeczytać!!!

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review 2017-07-24 20:05
Dark Prince / Christine Feehan
Dark Prince - Christine Feehan

***2017 Summer Lovin' Reading List***

Not my cuppa tea, your mileage may vary. It does provide a unique spin on the vampire mythos. There are two forms, the virtuous Carpathian and the corrupt vampire. When a Carpathian goes bad, he or she becomes a vampire. Their problem? Hardly any Carpathian females and those who still exist seem to have only male children. Without a life-mate, the Carpathian men are eventually reduced to a state where they can't see colour, can't experience much emotion, and can hardly avoid going vamp.

And that right there was my biggest issue with the whole book. It is entirely driven by male sexual needs and women are ultimately responsible for containing them. There isn't a sympathetic male character in the whole book! Well, I guess there is the priest who was a decent man but all the other human men are criminal, abusive, or teetering on the edge of violence. All the Carpathian men are arrogant assholes--controlling, condescending, seemingly unable to listen to anyone, even each other. (And how creepy is it that all these hundreds-of-years-old men are now standing around staring at Raven's belly, wondering when she is going to produce a girl child that they can perhaps claim as a life-mate?)

My other problem? Raven herself. For someone who thinks she's smart, she does nothing to prove it. She's smart enough to escape from the "protections" that Mikhail has constructed for her, but then goes wandering off into the woods, barefoot and half-naked. Both Raven & Mikhail go on and on about love and trust, but their behaviour says that there isn't all that much trust.

I respect the folks who love this series, though. The whole life-mate concept, while seeming claustrophobic to me, might seems tempting to those who would like to be sure about their relationships. We live in a world of 50% divorce rates--how nice would it be for everything to click magically into place when we meet a magical life-mate? No doubts, no regrets.

Not every book is for everyone, and I am done with this series. My TBR list is too long to waste valuable reading time on books that make me roll my eyes this violently.

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