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review 2017-09-18 17:07
Akata Witch / Nnedi Okorafor
Akata Witch - Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?


Read to fill the “Diverse Voices” square of my 2017 Halloween Bingo card.

The Nigerian version of Harry Potter, with an albino Nigerian-American girl as the star. Sunny really only wants to be able to play football and attend school without being bullied, but her family has a legacy of magic that no one talks about and which is going to take her life in unexpected direction. Her talent is recognized by the friend of a friend and soon Sunny is being coached in juju, taken to the magical city of the Leopard People, and dealing with some very serious magical situations. Fortunately, she has her own coven of friends to aid and abet her in her adventures.

Here, there are leopards and lambs, rather than magicians and muggles, there is football rather than quidditch, but there is also a whole window into West African life and mythology that will be unfamiliar to many North American readers. Nnedi Okorafor is in the perfect position to open this window for us, being born in the United States with Nigerian immigrant parents. With feet in both worlds, she is able to weave a tale understandable to both sides of the divide.

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review 2016-08-22 17:56
Authors should learn to take themselves out of the narratives sometimes.
The Maximum Security Book Club: Reading Literature in a Men's Prison - Mikita Brottman

The book sounded like a fascinating read. A woman conducts a prison book club. Goodreads (and perhaps other places) bills it as 'Orange Is the New Black' meets 'Reading Lolita in Tehran'. Well! I'm not familiar with the show but I have read 'Reading' so this seemed like a fascinating text.


Unfortunately it's not. The author intersperses her narrative about her life story with the stories of the inmates and the book club. How they all got to the book club. What made the author decide to volunteer her time. Why these men were in prison and their stories were before prison. What life was like in the prison. The books they read. The feelings and thoughts everyone (the author and the members) had on the various books. The lives of some of the members after they were released.


The writing in itself is good. The stories could be quite compelling. The problem is that the book is not what it was advertised to be and the author could not resist the compulsion to insert herself into the narrative. At first I thought we had received all of her life story and I'll admit it sounds like she's an interesting person. But it's clear that the book club is less about the prisoners and more about the author.


Some of the books seem to be really odd picks. 'Heart of Darkness' or 'Lolita', etc. Were those books really appropriate given the setting and the audience? Did she really need to talk about her feelings and interactions with the prisoners and re-center the focus?


Overall I'm somewhat skeptical of the whole thing. The author strikes me as a bit naive, quite sheltered and there's something about the text that seems sanitized. I'm not saying we needed brutally dark details of some of the reasons why these men were there or the conditions of the prison. But even with my relative lack of knowledge I just couldn't quite buy the the book's premise or what the author was saying. I understand that as a volunteer she wouldn't see the daily activities or atmosphere or see the prisoners on a regular basis but it seemed like she doesn't acknowledge that her POV would be very different from an employee or inmate.


There is some worth. If you're not at all familiar with the US prison system or are curious what volunteering in a prison could be like, this could have some value. But it was very difficult for me to get past the author's self-centeredness, even with the last, eye-rolling line of the book. Some people found it sad and so did I. I suspect, however, I found it pathetic for reasons that differ from theirs. I'd skip this.

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review 2016-07-26 00:00
Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers
Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion fo... Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers - Sally Allen My Review:
I'm going to have to get this book in paperback now that I have read it in ebook. This is the type of book that I need to be able to scribble in the margins! This would be a fabulous book to use for a book club for book lovers. It would make a wonderful reading list for such a book club!

I haven't read all the books in the book, but I've read at least one in each category, and usually more. I thoroughly enjoyed the author's comments and quotes on books. Not that I agreed with everything she said about every book, but that's why I think it would be so great for a book club. This book was written to start discussions and arguments about books! It's meant to get people engaged about books. And it certainly added to my reading list!

And absolute jewel of a book! Makes me want to get to know the author and be her next best friend! Sit in a shadey garden with a pot of tea and discuss books all day long!

This book was provided to me by Griffins Wharf and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley
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review 2016-07-11 00:00
My "a" book (My first steps to reading)
My "a" book (My first steps to reading) - Jane Belk Moncure,Colin King Read with granddaughter. She is just learning to read so this was a good book for her to sound out words with.
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text 2016-06-04 15:04
Why Readers Stop Reading a Book

(reblogged from Ronovan Writes)


Recently, we here at LitWorldInterviews.com conducted a survey, “Why do you put a book down?” and through the assistance of the writing community we had a very nice response. Now it’s time to share what we found.


First, I want to say why the survey was conducted. We wanted to help writers by giving them the information they most need. If a reader takes the time to check out your book and don’t like it, they are unlikely to give you a second chance with your next work. First impressions mean a lot. 86.30% of those responding were Female, thus leaving the remaining 13.70% Male. Considering the majority of those reading novels are Female, although not quite this extreme, I’m comfortable with sharing what we found.


There were 34 sub-categories as a result of the survey. Those results were then placed into 5 main categories: Writing, Editing, Proofreading, Taste, and Other, with Writing providing the largest number of sub-categories and results. 68.49% of those responding noted some form of dissatisfaction with Writing as a reason for putting a book down. 26.03% gave Editing. 23.29% gave Proofreading. 17.81% was Taste. 2.74% was Other.


Let’s take a look at the Writing sub-categories first.







Writing Concerns of Readers Pie Chart


The above pie chart shows the concerns in descending order of greatest number of mentions. The story being Dull was the most frequently mentioned problem with 25.29% of the mentions of the Category. Followed by actual Bad Writing, then Dull or Unbelievable Characters, Info Dump, and uses of Profanity.


Let me speak about Profanity for a moment, this along with Gore, Violence, and Sex were all mentioned in the context of being included in the story for no apparent reason. Most of those who noted it as a concern stated they know these things occur in books, and even have a place, but the problem arose when the author was using them as obvious crutches in an attempt to hide poor writing and plot.


The subcategories of Writing Concerns as identified by readers are as follows in descending order: Dull, Bad Writing, Unbelievable Characters, Info Dump, Profanity, Over Describing, Violence, Weak Narrative, Confusing Beginning, Unexpected Sex, Gore, Weak Story, Bad Dialogue, Dashes, Racism, Poor Relationships, Head Hopping, Repetition, and Writing with Dialect Accents.


What does this tell us? The first thing that jumps out to me is that we as authors aren’t putting out books with stories that are capturing the attention of the reader. With a book done with professional intent behind it, a dull story should be the reason our books are not read. That’s right, we are not read because we just didn’t do a good job of telling our story. Maybe we didn’t have the right beta readers. Maybe they were too nice. Maybe they just went through the motions. Maybe they just aren’t that good at the task. Or maybe we should recognize our work isn’t that good. How about all of the above?


Read the rest of the article here.  

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