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review 2019-01-15 20:30
Daba's Travels from Ouadda to Bangui by Makombo Bamboté
Daba's Travels from Ouadda to Bangui - Makombo Bamboté,George Ford

Like apparently most of the people who read this book, I read it for my world books challenge and wasn’t particularly impressed. It seems to be aimed at middle-grade readers (ages 9-12), and recounts the childhood experiences of a boy named Daba as he leaves his village in the Central African Republic to attend school in a larger town and spends his vacations traveling around the country with friends and relatives.

As you would expect, this is a quick and easy read that even includes some illustrations. It’s a pretty gentle story, including adventures such as attending a boarding school and tagging along for a crocodile hunt. However, it is disjointed, prematurely ending events that could have been exciting if fully-developed – like the crocodile hunt, which gets less page time than a neighbor telling the boys a story – and including more episodes than fit comfortably within its brief page count. It does little to immerse the reader in Daba’s feelings or experiences; in the second half of the book, he seems to fade into his group of friends, who are indistinguishable in personality and experiences (except for the French pen pal who somehow is able to fly to a Central African Republic town alone and spend the summer wandering from village to isolated village with the local boys).

Daba grows older – the book appears to cover a couple of years – but he doesn’t really have struggles to overcome or seem to change or learn more about life. At times, knowing the story to be based in some way on the author’s childhood, Daba’s portrayal even comes across as self-aggrandizing: a star pupil, always cool and confident, beats adults at games, liked by everyone except for one classmate who’s condemned by other children and adults alike. Meanwhile, for adult readers, the language is perhaps too simple, and some of the events are eyebrow-raising or could use more explanation (the pen pal trip, Daba’s being awarded a scholarship to study abroad without any apparent effort from him or consent from his parents, etc.).

At any rate, this isn’t too bad if you’re doing a world books challenge – Daba travels around his country, giving the reader a sense of the landscape and the culture in the places he visits, and quick reads are always valued for big challenges – but those searching for diverse books to give to the children in their lives would be better served looking elsewhere.

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review 2018-10-19 03:42
Stalking Jack the Ripper
Stalking Jack the Ripper - Kerri Maniscalco

This just didn't work for me at all, and I'm so disappointed. The synopsis made it seem like it should be right in my wheelhouse, but it just wasn't.

 

I think my main issues were with the main characters, Audrey Rose (whose POV we read from) and Thomas, her love interest. I didn't like either of them. He came off as a pompous know-it-all, and she was insufferable and judgemental. She's also supposed to be a feminist character, but it falls a little false when she's judgemental about other women who like the more traditional feminine things of the era. That whole, "I'm not like the other girls" vibe that drives me crazy. She also had several TSTL moments in the book.

 

The romance fell flat. I felt the pair had zero chemistry.

 

The identity of "Jack" was obvious extremely early in the book, though the author tried to lay a false trail by dropping anvil sized hints that it was actually someone else.

 

I didn't hate the writing, and I did like the part where Audrey Rose stood up to her father, and the bonus chapters from Thomas' viewpoint at the end of the book were good, as well. I wish we'd been able to read from his POV sometimes during the novel. Maybe I'd have found him a bit more likeable, but by the time I got to the bonus chapters, it was too little, too late.

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text 2018-10-19 03:19
Reading progress update: I've read 416 out of 416 pages.
Stalking Jack the Ripper - Kerri Maniscalco

Yeah...I may be one of the few, but this one didn't work for me.

 

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text 2018-10-18 05:16
Reading progress update: I've read 260 out of 416 pages.
Stalking Jack the Ripper - Kerri Maniscalco

This one is reading faster than the other book, but I can't really say I'm feeling it, either.

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video 2018-10-16 22:59

~My mostly old book haul~

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