Reviews

2017 Reading Wrap-Up: Books #26-30

The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler Р4 stars

I can’t put my finger on why this wasn’t a five star read for me, but it just fell a little flat.

I appreciate the rawness of the monologues and the fact that I was uncomfortable when I was reading some of them. That means that they were making me think. I do think this is an important read and I am glad that I picked it up. I easily gave the monologues themselves 5 stars because of how personal they are and how I could relate to them in a way I didn’t expect.

I think one of my biggest issues was the fact that there was only one monologue for trans-women, so it kind of felt like it was excluding them in the discussion about women. Especially given the fact that V-Day is about fighting violence against women, and trans-women face some of the worst violence, it felt like a glaring omission to me. And yes, I realize that it is called The Vagina Monologues, but it just rubbed me (forgive the pun) the wrong way.

I thought that the additions at the end of the V-Day special were interesting because it let us see the impact V-Day is having on the world. They have accomplished so much, but we still have so far to go.

The Vagina Monologues

Wires and Nerve Volume 1 by Marissa Meyer – 5 stars

Iko is probably my favorite character from The Lunar Chronicles so I was ecstatic when I heard she was getting her own graphic novel. And I am happy to say that it did not disappoint.

I was a little apprehensive of the artwork when I first saw it, but I think that it really worked for the story. I also appreciate that due to the color scheme that was chosen, any blood from the fights is not in your face. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for it when I’m reading other graphic novels, but given the audience and the story, I appreciate the muted aspect of the violence.

It was just so much fun to see the entire gang. And I really enjoyed the new characters of the Kinneys. I know that we saw Sir Kinney in the other books, but he does play a bigger part in this. And I love the relationship between him and Iko. But I also loved Tressa. She was just so much fun!

I was so sad when it was over because I want to know what else happens! I want to continue seeing Iko being the badass, feminine, sassy person that she is. I also am so curious to see how the story goes from where it is to where it ends up in Stars Above. I cannot wait until volume 2!

Wires and Nerve

El Deafo by Cece Bell – 4 stars

This was so adorable!

I really love that this is a graphic novel for kids that focuses on not only what it’s like to live with a severe hearing impairment but also on teaching others how to interact with someone who has a hearing impairment. I love that whether or not you have a hearing impairment, you can related to a good majority of the stories. It features stories about trying to fit in, dealing with pushy friends, struggling at school, and first crushes.

The artwork is so cute and really conveys some great emotions. Even though the main audience for this is kids, I feel like anyone can read it and take something away from it. I also appreciate that Bell included an author’s note where she stressed that El Deafo is just her experience and that she is in no way speaking for all that are hard of hearing or Deaf.

Overall, this was a fantastic read and I think everyone should read it.

El Deafo

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander – 5 stars

What can I say? I’m Harry Potter trash. So when I heard that not only was there going to be a new edition of Fantastic Beasts but an audiobook narrated by Eddie Redmayne, I was sold.

I’m still in awe of the fact that Rowling came up with all of these creatures, what they look like, and their characteristics. My only complaint is that it isn’t longer and that there are several omissions of creatures mentioned throughout the Harry Potter series (such as hinkypunks and boggarts). I will never get tired of reading as much as I can about the wizarding world.

The audiobook is fantastic and it was like having Newt read it to me personally. If you can, I highly recommend checking it out.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – 4 stars

This was the first time that I read Anne of Green Gables, and I must say, I really enjoyed it. I honestly had no idea what the story was going into it other than the fact that it was set in Canada.

I overall really loved Anne. She is smart, spunky, full of imagination, and so utterly driven. However, there were quite a few times that I was a little annoyed by her (especially when she went on long spiels about whatever is on her mind). It also was a little hard to imagine that she had so many disastrous things happen to her constantly. But like I said, overall, she was a wonderful character.

I also really ended up enjoying all of the side characters. And though I did expect a certain character’s death, I was still heartbroken when it happened.

Montgomery’s world is so easy to imagine as she does a beautiful job of painting a picture of what it would be like to live there. However, there were a couple of times where Montgomery’s writing was not my favorite. By the end of the book, I was over the fact that anytime Matthew said anything, he started with “Well, now, …”

I would highly recommend checking out the audiobook narrated by Rachel McAdams. She does such a great job with the story and it really enhanced my reading experience.

Anne of Green Gables

Reviews

2017 Reading Wrap-Up: Books #21-25

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – 5 stars

Have you ever inhale read something because it gripped you so much? And then kicked yourself because you inhale read it and now it’s over and you wish you had spent a little more time with it? Yeah, that’s what happened for me.

I need to sit back and digest what I just read because it’s so powerful and thought-provoking. But for now, I’ll just say this: A hairbrush is not a gun.

Update: so it’s been just shy of two days since I finished reading this and I’m honestly still thinking about it. I’ve grown up in America, reading about and seeing the unjust killings of African Americans by police in the news but since I am white and therefore extremely privileged, I have no clue what it’s like to have the police target me just because of my race. Angie Thomas has captured the African American experience so well in this book that I have been able to get a small glimpse of what it is like. I think that every white person needs to read this book in order to grow as a person and learn. It’s uncomfortable to read about Hailey and how blatantly racist she is, while claiming that she is absolutely not one. But when you say things like “that Black stuff” and ask questions like whether or not an Asian American’s family members eat cats for Thanksgiving, you are most definitely a racist. It’s micro-aggressions like these that minorities face everyday from white people and I’m glad that Thomas included them to highlight how you may think you are joking when actually, you are doing real damage.

One of my biggest complaints about YA in general is how the parents tend to be lacking, but I am so extremely happy to say that Starr’s parents are very much involved and have a healthy relationship. Yes, they fight, but they are mature about it. They want what is best for their children. They punish their children when necessary. They are just extremely wonderful role models and their relationship is so freaking cute to boot.

The story has a large cast of characters, but you end up rooting for all of them. By the end of the novel, I was praying that no one got hurt. Starr is such a fantastic character – she struggles throughout the book and is flawed, but is also completely strong and stands up for what she believes is right. Mav and Lisa are amazing (see above paragraph for my gush about them). Her brothers have great personalities and are a positive presence in Starr’s life. Chris is willing to learn about things that he doesn’t understand. DeVante wasn’t someone I wanted to root for, but as we learn more about him, I couldn’t help but love him. Uncle Carlos shows that there are good cops that get overshadowed by the bad ones. The community show just how close they are and how they stand together. It was just such a wonderful thing to read.

I hope that I’m doing this book justice – I’m still learning. This book is powerful, timely, and important and everyone needs to read it.

the-hate-u-give

Liar Temptress Soldier Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott – 4 stars

I honestly remember very little about the Civil War from what I learned in school. But when I heard about this book detailing the lives of some bada** ladies, I was all in.

Karen Abbott clearly did her research and presented the lives of these women in a way that was educational but also hella entertaining.

Emma Edmonds, Elizabeth Van Lew, Rose Greenhow, and Belle Boyd all believed in what they were fighting for. And despite my Southern heritage (Texas born and raised) I have to say that Emma and Elizabeth’s stories were more intriguing to me. I just did not care for Rose or Belle and how pretentious they both came off.

Emma disguised herself as a man so that she could fight in the Union army. Elizabeth created her own underground network. Rose and Belle both boasted about what they were doing and took it as an honor that they were arrested multiple times. Though these women never met (save for a couple of times with Rose and Belle), Abbott weaved their stories in the same chapters if they were occurring at the same time. Because of this, it was sometimes difficult to keep track of who I was reading about.

It was clear that these four women were willing to sacrifice for what they believed in. And it was really awesome to read a story about the Civil War that focused on women rather than the men. I started reading it back in November but I wasn’t really in the mood for non-fiction at the time so I put it off. It’s fitting that I finished this during Women’s History Month.

liar-temptress-soldier-spy

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – 5 stars

This short book packs a punch. I love how Adichie backs up each of her points with real-life experiences. I especially loved that she focused on her experiences in Nigeria, as it highlights the need for intersectionality within feminism. As a white woman in America, I have not had to face many of the experiences that she has faced and it opened my eyes to making sure that my feminism includes all women. I think that everyone should read this. Especially if you are new to feminism.

We Should All Be Feminists

Before Goodbye by Mimi Cross – 2.5 stars

The story was all over the place, especially with the random flashbacks that are not really identified as flashbacks. Also, I really couldn’t care less about either Cate or David and did not really see the supposed chemistry between them.

The author tried to handle issues like sexual assault, suicide, and teenage drug use, but because she tries to cover all of them, she really doesn’t do justice to any of them. She even tries to have a female/female relationship, but again, does not really do it justice.

It was pretty cool to read the music scenes as it is clear that music is something that the author is passionate about. But other than that, I just wasn’t very interested. And there were several plot points that I had a very hard time buying *cough* Bryn’s involvement with a crime going unnoticed and unreported by anyone *cough*.

This book also had the wonderful *sarcasm* trope of YA books having non-existent as well as abusive parents. I’m really really tired of this and I wish it would stop.

Also, the amount of times the author used ellipses was rather annoying.

Overall, I was rather bored with this and I’m glad that I got it through Kindle First since it means I didn’t have to pay for it.

Before Goodbye

Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul: Second Dose by Jack Canfield, Mark victor Hansen, and LeAnn Thieman – 4 stars

It always seems that about halfway through the semester, I need a reminder of why I want to go into nursing. And this book did not disappoint.

I cried during the stories. I laughed. I sat back and thought about the impact we can make as nurses.

I liked that there was a variety of stories and a variety of perspectives. It’s sometimes nice to hear from patients rather than only from other nurses.

Overall, this book was just what I needed as I gear up for my last seven weeks of nursing school.

 Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul
Reviews

2017 Reading Wrap-Up: Books #6-10

Fatal Puzzle by Catherine Shepherd and translated by Julia Knobloch – 2 stars

I’ve had this on my Kindle for over 2 years (it’s one of many Kindle First books that I got and then proceeded to not read because I’m a horrible person like that) and since one of my goals is to read all of my Kindle First books this year, here I am.

The idea of jumping between 1495 and present day was intriguing, but the way that it was executed was rather disappointing. I’m not sure if it is because it was translated to English so the writing fell flat or if the writing just was not strong to begin with. There were several plot points that I had a really hard time getting behind and felt like there was no need to include the paranormal aspect.

The puzzle aspect held promise, but I feel like the fact that the first two victims’ last names matched up with an aspect of the puzzle just to throw off the scent was a little too easy. I find it hard to believe that the investigator would focus on the last names and not the names of the towers.

The current day killer seemed so out of left field. I wish we had gotten more from his perspective, to be honest. Especially given some of his inner thoughts near the end of the book. It just didn’t make sense to me. And again, it felt too easy to have one of the suspects that the police were interested in.

I felt like the 1495 scenes didn’t feel as authentic as I would normally like my historical fiction because the language felt a little too modern for my taste.

I’m giving it a 2 star rating rather than a 1 star rating because I’m taking into account that some of my problems could have been due to the translation from German to English.

fatal-puzzle

Glass by Ellen Hopkins – 4 stars

I did enjoy this more than I enjoyed Crank (as weird as it is to say you enjoyed reading about someone’s life being destroyed by meth). And I found this one to be more believable than Crank as we saw more of the ramifications and consequences of Kristina’s addiction.

Kristina still continued to annoy me, but this time I was a little bit more understanding in that I really saw just how far gone she was with her addiction. There were many times that I wanted to slap her in her face and tell her to get over it, but I know that a) she’s a fictional character and b) that won’t do anything for an addict – they have to want to get the help themselves.

I really don’t like Trey and was really rooting for her and Brad to end up together. I just thought that she and Brad had more chemistry and that he was a much better guy for her (even if he was a meth dealer). I was a little confused because I thought that Brendan knew about Hunter? I may be remembering wrong. But I wasn’t the biggest fan of having him pop up again.

I thought that Kristina was just a straight up b*tch to Heather for no reason and it kinda made me uncomfortable just how homophobic she seemed to be with all of her nasty thoughts towards Heather. It was a bit hard for me to imagine Leigh being okay with her sister acting like that towards her girlfriend.

I was glad that her mom finally took some sort of stand against Kristina when she kicked her out because of her usage. And I like that she filed for full custody of Hunter because it was the first wake-up call that Kristina truly was losing her battle to her addiction. And this is going to sound harsh, but I was really glad that she ended up being arrested. I think what made me glad to read it is that this is aimed at a teen audience and I want them to see that they can do some serious damage to themselves. I know that addiction is a disease, but there are so many instances in pop culture where a drug user and/or dealer do not face many consequences and it ends up being almost romanticized. I hope that makes sense.

Anyway, I think it’ll be interesting to read Kristina’s story’s conclusion. I wonder what will happen with the proposed deal with the Feds and what will happen with her and Trey know that they are expecting a child. Especially since it was clear that Hunter was too much for Trey to handle.

glass

Fallout by Ellen Hopkins – 4.5 stars

Fallout was way more powerful for me than Crank and Glass. But I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the narration shifts to three of Kristina’s children. As the child of an addict, I found myself sharing a lot of the same emotions and thoughts that Hunter, Autumn, and Summer had.

I thought that switching the narration was a smart move on Hopkins’s part. It really shows just how far reaching the consequences of addiction can be. And I feel like we were still getting Kristina’s story, so it felt like a good ending to the series.

I felt like Hopkins did a good job of representing the panic attacks that Autumn feels. And I kind of liked that she also had OCD. I totally understood why she told Bryce that her parents were dead despite the fact that they weren’t. When your parent is an addict and have pretty much abandoned you, sometimes it’s easier to just pretend that they are dead. It makes it much easier to deal with the pain. But it’s also hard to explain that sometimes. And while I get that Bryce was mad that she lied, I hate that he didn’t give her a chance to really explain. I kinda wish that Hopkins hadn’t added the possible pregnancy, but that’s just me.

Hunter was an interesting perspective to read since we’ve seen him in Crank and Glass, even though he was just a baby. I wish that we could have seen him and Brendan get to know each other a little more, especially since Brendan seems to have changed his life around after being in the armed forces. While I didn’t like that he cheated on Nikki, I did kind of like that it helped bring him closer to Scott as he was asking him for advice on how to show Nikki he was sorry. And I’m glad that he really was sorry and did try to make it up to Nikki.

Summer was interesting to read about, especially having her in the foster system. Her storyline was my least favorite, but it was still compelling. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Kyle, but he grew on me and I did like their relationship. I also liked that Summer was willing to stand up for and protect her foster siblings when things went south.

I also liked that at the end of the book, when everyone has finally re-connected, Kristina finally gets some closure and actually has an emotional breakdown (I know, that sounds harsh of me). And I totally understand why Hunter and Summer are having a hard time believing anything that Kristina is saying. Once you’ve heard enough lies, even the truth sounds like it. Especially coming out of the mouth of an addict. I think that this was a very strong conclusion to Kristina’s story and I’m glad I stuck out reading the entire trilogy because I wasn’t sure I would after Crank.

fallout

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn – 4 stars

This was my first time reading Gillian Flynn and if the rest of her novels are like this short story, I cannot wait to read them.

I was gripped from page 1 and flew through the entire story. I actually really enjoyed the narrator and even though she wasn’t always the most honest person, there were times that you saw her humanity and goodness shine through.

I also actually liked the idea of not knowing which story is true because there are always multiple sides to each story. Though I’m not sure I’m 100% okay with the ending and the situation that the main character ends up in legally (I’m purposefully being vague to avoid spoilers but I think if you’ve read it you’ll understand what I’m talking about).

the-grownup

Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World Edited by Kelly Jensen – 4 stars

I really wish that this book was out when I was a teen because I think I would’ve gotten a little bit more out of it and would have rated it 5 stars.

I love that it focused on intersectionality and brought in a diverse set of voices to tell their stories. I love that there were recommendations for books, movies, graphic novels, and music. I love that each author stressed that there is no right way to be a feminist.

There were some stories that I had a hard time connecting with, but that was one of the reasons why I wanted to read this. I wanted to learn about other’s experiences with feminism and just the world in general. I can’t quite put my finger on what was missing for me, but overall I really enjoyed this and I think that everyone should read this. It’s a great introduction to feminism if you are just dipping your toes in and are not quite ready to jump both feet first into writers like bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Margaret Atwood (to name a very small bunch).

 here-we-are