Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaiporta and Dhonielle Clayton|BHM 2017 {review}

18710209Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

 

 

Man, I don’t know.

This book was kind of all over the place. Everyone in this book was just, so, mean. With the petty pranks, the jealousy, the backstabbing, the cheating and everything else it was just shocking. BUT, I can’t lie, I actually enjoyed this story. It’s full of completely unlikable characters, complex characters actually.

We are in three perspectives, Gigi, Bette and June and they all basically compete for a big roll in the upcoming dance shows. Throughout the story, there’s vicious pranks, name calling, dating but there’s some pretty serious problems each of the main characters go through.

Gigi: One of the only black girls in their ballet group (whoops, I forgot if she’s the only black girl in the school or level). She’s sweet, caring bur has a serious heart condition that no one knows about. She’s often the victim of bullying because she’s one of the best dancers and also because she’s black.

Bette: Probably the most malicious one of all. Right from the start, she loses her star role and her boyfriend, curtsy of Gigi.  In result, she begins to torment the poor girl and becomes a tad bit obsessive and will do anything to get back her spotlight and her on/off again boyfriend. Although not said explicitly, she has a prescription drug problem.

June: She’s half Korean and Half Caucasian. She has become Gigi’s understudy for the most part but also seems to be a loner, despite Gigi’s attempts to befriend her. However, she does seem to have trouble staying in her lane and often snoops around.  June has a lot of baggage, including being on the brink of an eating disorder.

As you can see, these characters far from being 2 dimensional. There’s also other character such as Alex( Gigi’s boyfriend and Bette’s ex), Will (carries heavy guilt) Henri(all about the drama). Like the main 3, these characters also have a compelling role in the story.

The book also explores the themes of the pressures of competition and parents. Pressure can really deteriorate a person, limb from limb and it was interesting to see. Racism is also discuss and how POC struggle to rise above in the ballet industry. Eating disorders and drugs became a reoccurring themes.  There were just a lot of depth in the story in general, making me never bored

But man, these characters were ruthless. Like, they did a lot of stuff that were over the line. I absolutely hated Bette. It went to the point where it was hard for me to feel bad for her when I think I was supposed to. I liked and hated June at times. Mostly, she would just extremely judgmental and slightly hypocritical and irrational. She has a feud with the other Korean ballerinas and she holds one of their secrets that they might like the opposite sex. JUNE’S PROBLEM IS THAT SHE STRUGGLES TO STAY IN HER LANE BECAUSE DESPITE HOW MUCH YOU MIGHT HATE SOMEONE YOU SHOULDN’T BE THE ONE TO TELL PEOPLE BECAUSE THAT’S A PERSONAL DECISION NOT YOUR DECISION. OUTING SOMEONE IS NEVER OK.

Some of the stuff these girls did made me uncomfortable because I don;t understand how they can get away with what they did. Like um, where are the adults in this?!?!?!

It was difficult for me to get behind any of the romances. I felt like Gigis and Alex were a bit insta-lovey and moved way too fast. Bette’s obsession with them also didn’t help either. Like she was really POSSESSIVE over Alex. Overall, everyone’s relationships (friendships and love interests) seemed weirdly unnatural to me.  I wish the relationships were more flushed out and slowed down.

Also, there’s this one scene where I almost threw my kindle (this isn’t a spoiler). Gigi was in the teacher’s office really distress and heartbroken about something and then the teacher was like “oh since you’re in here did you have an affair with one of the teachers?” Like what? IS THIS REALLY THE TIME?!?!?!?!?!

The book ended super abruptly and there’s still a lot of unanswered questions. I think I will finish the duology because the drama (even though it’s problematic at times) is addicting as hell.

It’s a fun book with some riveting themes. I don’t think books (or anything in general) about ballerinas are my thing because I tend to not care about that aspect. It’s a good book if you want to read some cut throat drama with a diverse cast of characters. If you like Pretty Little Liars, this might be the book for you.

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White authors having black protagonists?|A black reader perspective|BHM 2017

Happy start to Black History Month!

Note: I would like to note that all content expressed in this post comes from a matter of personal experience living in the United States, I don’t mean to offend any cultures and if I do, feel free to call me out in the comments since it’s crucial for one to be mindful of everyone’s experiences. This isn’t a white-hate post and I respect all backgrounds. 

Ah yes, an opinion right from the source…

If you would ask me this question a couple years ago, I would have been like “hey who cares, it’s fiction anyways!”

Now, I’m not so sure if that statement can justify white authors writing about black protagonists (POC in general but I’m using black people as an example since I’m black). I still sort of believe that white authors can write about who they want, but I think they have to put in a lot more effort and research since it’s a different culture who has faced oppression and still is today. They would have to do it right, something I feel can be complicated.

I read a book years ago (I’m totally blanking on the name it was like freshman year of high school, you’re the real MVP if you know what book I’m talking about) that a white woman wrote. It features a black female protagonist and a white love interest. This romance made me extremely uncomfortable. It made me uncomfortable because not that they are an interracial couple but the fact how they got together. It was a love/hate relationship but instead of cute flirtatious teasing, the boy was pretty racist. He would make comments about her skin color and he didn’t defend her when his friends were making harsh remarks because she was black. Yet, love wins and they develop feelings for each other and all her problems are solved.

What.The.Hell.

I was like no no no! This seemed weird and wrong to me. I don’t get how someone can just ignore the fact that they are racist. The whole, “love can change someone” is bullshit to me. As a black woman, I don’t think I can personally easily forgive something like that. Honestly, now the book seemed like the classic “The white saves the black” / “The blind side” situations. When the couple get together, no one talked shit about her or her skin color.

Flash-forward to now. More book reviewers are now dedicating their reading to #ownvoices. I wonder if a black author would have wrote that book. Would she/he would have used racism as “love” devise. Or would he/she have taken a different approach at a very sensitive topic and would have been more credible since he/she would have most likely faced racism in their lives?

I was reading what from a white author’s point of view, who thought that this is a healthy interracial relationship looks like (well in my opinion and who is coming from a family full of interracial marriages, this isn’t healthy).

This has made me hesitant to read from white authors who have POC protagonists (black specifically). It has put me off from reading The Help and Robin Talley’s Lies We Tell Ourselves –which sounds similar to the book I read years ago.

I  know there’s arguments on how a authors should “look past the race” and be “color blind” but I feel that’s silly. It’s denying the oppression POC has faced, denying their experiences and assimilating to popular culture. I really hate the colorblind excuse.

I would also like to note that black authors who write books with black protagonist are always going to be accurate. I don’t believe that you can’t discredit them because it’s their experience, their culture. Yes, I might read in a black POV that is different from my experience, but that’s because black people face different experiences, but they are all valid. A white author writing about their experiences are therefore not completely valid since they never had a black experience. 

In reality, authors can write about whoever they want. However, when it comes to sensitive topics and comfort, I think reading from a black author that’s about black people is better for me personally. It’s more legitimate and the experience itself is more authentic. I love that white authors are adding more diverse characters to their stories, but I feel reading in an #ownvoices perspective is worthwhile.

What do you think? Can/should white authors write books with black protagonists? 

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Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World by A Bunch of Amazing Feminists! {review}

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Let’s get the feminist party started!

Here We Are is a scrapbook-style teen guide to understanding what it really means to be a feminist. It’s packed with essays, lists, poems, comics, and illustrations from a diverse range of voices, including TV, film, and pop-culture celebrities and public figures such as ballet dancer Michaela DePrince and her sister Mia, politician Wendy Davis, as well as popular YA authors like Nova Ren Suma, Malinda Lo, Brandy Colbert, Courtney Summers, and many more. Altogether, the book features more than forty-four pieces, with an eight-page insert of full-color illustrations.

Here We Are is a response to lively discussions about the true meaning of feminism on social media and across popular culture and is an invitation to one of the most important, life-changing, and exciting parties around.

 

Something about this AMAZING anthropology provoked me to have a startling but thrilling reaction . I LOVED this, I loved everything about this book. It’s fun but informative, real but optimistic. This made me happy…empowered but also made me cry at one point of view because it hit me straight to home. This, right her,e is what I would almost describe as a teenager version of the feminist textbook. You WILL learn something from this…trust me. This is one of those books that parents should give their teens to read.

In this bundle of joy contains not just the voices of proud feminists but proud intersectional feminists. We hear the voices of  POC/WOC, LGBTQIA, women with disabilities. The representation is outstanding. I wish I read this when I was in highschool, but no matter what age you are, this book still leaves a mark. I want to applaud Kelly Jenson for making this collection possible.

(Some people you might know: Kelly Jenson, Roxane Gay, Courtney Summers, Malinda Lo, Kody Keplinger, Daniel José Older, Brandy Colbert, Mikki Kendall, Nova Ren Suma, Laurie Halse Anderson, Wedny Davis, Alida Nugent, Jen Talley, Siobhan Vivian, Mindy Kaling and there’s so so so many more).

In this anthropology, these diverse group of authors explores the social order of the world educate what feminism is and how to stay true to oneself. We hear the voices of a bisexual woman with a disability,  a woman who don’t fit the ideal body for our mainstream media, a woman struggling to come to terms with their race because they were told constantly that they don’t fit the stereotype of their people (I got a lot of this in high school and even now) and a woman who doesn’t want kids. The book explores how black people are standing in the sidelines when it comes to their own culture (hip hop). Laverne Fox talking about being the face of the transgender movement. We even get to listen to the perspective of a straight white cis male who is a proud feminist. In addition, this book provides a feminists playlist, feminist recommendations (books, TV Movies), comics, poems, FAQs and much more.

I read Here We Are in the matter of two days, which I haven’t read a book in a short amount of time for a while (even though it just passes the 200 page mark, but I still struggle with even short books). While reading, I was bugging my friend, spitting out numerous of new ideas that I learned, my anger towards certain situations, favorite quotes. She even wanted to read the book and asked if she can borrow it after I was done.

It’s hard to really review this properly. All the stories were impactful, all the extras were necessary. It’s hard to outline my favorite parts because it’s me basically saying which person had the best personal story and that’s something I cannot fathom to do.

Though, I will say that the passage about fandoms was interesting because it’s something I would have never thought about. When people write fan fictions  about characters in a fandom  and change their sexual orientation (Harry and Draco) or race (Latino Spiderman), it’s actually opening doors for individuals who never get {adequate} representation. Many marginalized groups don’t to be a part of pop culture (at least, main characters) so writing fanfiction gives representation to the unrepresented.

Also, the Somewhere in America poem was beautiful and eyeopening. The use of contradictions to get a point across made the poem almost dark but also causes others to reflect.

Now, somewhere in America there is a child holding a copy of Catcher in the Rye and there is a child holding a gun/ but only one of these has been banned from their state government and it’s not the one that can rip through flesh. – Zariya Allen

Overall, I just learned a lot, more than I really anticipated and not just big picture stuff. I learned that the birth name of a trans is actually considered as a “deadname” (if change name of course). I learned that “chic lit” can be derogatory to women authors. Hell, I learned that it’s okay to know know every “first women” dates or events and that doesn’t make you less of a feminists. I think everyone can learned something from this collection, even if you think you know all about social issues.

Although the book cover looks fun and silly, the perspectives you will read will stay with you.

Here We Are made me want to be more vocal about Feminism and destroy the stigmas that the word holds.

 

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The Reader Confessional #5

Welcome to a new confessional!

The reader confessional is where I disclose all of my embarrassing secrets, funny experiences, weird habits and unpopular opinions regarding my reading life.

 

This week’s confession:

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My family still makes fun of me to this day. I really wanted to sell some of my book and I thought I would have a mini book sale. My mom told me not to do it since she thought that no one would buy anything. I was like nah, people would buy something. I added some video games to lure more customers but NOPE COMPLETE FAILURE. I was so hurt.

Any disappointments in your life?

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January Wrap-Up|Success!

Well, this month was a pretty good reading month for me. I read a total of 10 books!

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GENERAL
Favorite Book: Difficult Women by Roxane
Least Favorite Book: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
New Authors Read: Roxane Gay, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, R.J. Palacio, Meredith Russo, I.W. Gregorio, Alice Pung
New Authors I want to continue reading: Roxane Gay, Alice Pung

READING CHALLENGES
Number of “Diversity” Books Read: 7
Number of #OwnVoices Read: 5
Number Books Completed for Classic Life Challenge: Nada oops

WHAT TYPES OF BOOKS DID I READ
Number of Kids/Middle Grade: 1
Number of YA: 6
Number of Adult/Lit Fiction: 3
Number of Classics: 0
Number of Short Stories/Novellas:1
Number of Short Story Collections: 2
Number of Realistic Fiction Stories: 6
Number of Fantasy/Paranormal/Science Fiction: 2
Number of Mystery/Thrillers: 2
Number of “Other Books” (Historical, etc): Nada

Book REVIEWS

Falling Kingdoms Books 1-3|None of the Above|If I Was Your Girl|Wonder|The Naturals|Lucy and Linh|The Thing Around Your Neck

Mini Reviews

The Bad, The Good, The Great|#Diverseathon Wrap Up

TV/Movie Reviews

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Goals For Upcoming Month

  • Read more Mystery/Thriller books
  • Read Books by Black Authors and Books with Black protagonists (black history month)
  • Read a classic from my Classic Life Challenge {here}
  • Keep up with blogging at least 3x a week (I did everyday in January!)

 

 

Well that’s it! How was your reading/blogging month?

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Mini Reviews| #Diverseathon Wrap Up Edition

#Diverseathon Wrap Up

WOW, what a crazy week. I almost made (and still tempted) to make a post about my thoughts on what’s going on in America (though, it would mostly be angry) but I want to make the post organize and thoughtful, so we’ll see. Again, reading usually calms me down and I’m glad I participated in this readathon!

Anyways, in my TBR post, I said that I would most likely read only two books and I was completely right! I ended up reading and finishing Shadowshaper. I decided to not read George because at the airport, I saw a hardcover of Difficult Women on sale for 40% off and I was like “ima buy dat” since it was on my most anticipated list (when I make those lists, I never actually end up reading those books because I hate buying new releases since they are so expensive, I ain’t rich). But I bought it and read it! Both the books I read were also #ownvoices! On to the reviews!

 


22295304Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

Published:  une 30th 2015 by Arthur A. Levine Books

Page count: 304

Rating:★★★

Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “No importa” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.

Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future.

Review: I really enjoyed this book but something fell flat with me. I’m not sure what that is, but I want more from the world, from the characters. I loved the magic system and found myself memorized when Sierra or Robbie would use their Shadowshaper powers.  I think the concept of using art to manifest spirits is incredibly fascinating. However, for some reason, I didn’t care for the plot. Most of the time, I felt ‘meh’ about everything. The character development lacked to me and wished Sierra was more complex (though I did like her as I will mention later).  Like I said in the beginning, I wish there was more. It’s pretty face paced and i think that’s where the novel fell. It was too fast pace and a lot of situations seemed convenient. However, what I appreciated about the story was the subtle and not so subtle discussions on racism. The cast was also extremely diverse, containing POC (lantinx) and individuals who are in the LGBT community. Also, Sierra as a character felt real to me. She’s slightly insecure about her wait and second guess whether if she’s going on a date or not with Robbie (something I do all the time when someone asks me to go somewhere with them). I thought the relationship between Sierra and Robbie was a tad bit fast, but nonetheless really cute. Overall, it was a good quick read. If you want to read about a cool magic system with diverse character, I recommend this one!

 

28818921Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

Published:January 3rd 2017 by Grove Press

Page count: 260 pages

Rating:★★★★★

The women in these stories live lives of privilege and of poverty, are in marriages both loving and haunted by past crimes or emotional blackmail. A pair of sisters, grown now, have been inseparable ever since they were abducted together as children, and must negotiate the marriage of one of them. A woman married to a twin pretends not to realize when her husband and his brother impersonate each other. A stripper putting herself through college fends off the advances of an overzealous customer. A black engineer moves to Upper Michigan for a job and faces the malign curiosity of her colleagues and the difficulty of leaving her past behind. From a girls’ fight club to a wealthy subdivision in Florida where neighbors conform, compete, and spy on each other, Gay delivers a wry, beautiful, haunting vision of modern America reminiscent of Merritt Tierce, Jamie Quatro, and Miranda July.

Review: WOW. Just wow. The first story definitely sucked me. Roxane Gay’s writing is honestly just memorizing. It’s easy to read yet contains so much depth. All the women she constructs in her stories were all so memorable. They were “difficult women” they were real. Throughout these collections, I was stunned and uncomfortable. A lot of these stories were harder to read than others because how vividly Gay describes the events that are occurring. Her writing was compelling, honest, real. One of my favorites was the first one, “I will follow you” where Gay tells the story of two sisters who were abducted when they were younger and as adults they are inseparable that many seem to be weird. I also liked “Mark of Cain” where a woman marries a twin. The twins switch places (the husband with a mistress) and the women pretends to not be aware of the swapping and accepts what’s happening. Another being “Difficult Women,” where Gay lists distinct groups of women(crazy women, mothers, loose women) and expresses why they are misunderstood.  These are just the first stories and I can easily list all of them because they were just absolutely stunning.The characters were 3-dimensional, the love stories seemed realistic, the situations many characters are in are heartbreaking. Each story is unique in its own way and many of them I will reread in the future. Also, the representation of WOC and LGBT is also presented, making this more relatable to me personally (especially the biracial representation). If you’re a woman, a man, a LIVING person, you should read this (I know I’ve been saying this a lot lately but you should make this one a priority). I can’t wait to read more by Roxane Gay. TW: abuse, rape.

 

 

Read any of these books? Did you participate in #Diverseathon?  Let me know down below!

 

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Rapid Fire Book Tag

Hello all,

I’m here to do another tag today! I was tagged by @thebookcovergirls

Let’s get right to it!



Image result for ebook photoEbooks or Physical Books?

Ebooks… overdrive is my best friend

Paperback or Hardback?

Paperback. Cheaper and easier to read from

Online or in-store book
shopping?

In-store. Shopping at Barnes and Noble prevents me from binge buying because it’s expensive. I usually only buy one paperback.

Trilogies or series?

Series.

Image result for voldemortHeroes or villains?

Villains.

A book you want everyone to read?

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

25695574Recommend an underrated book.

Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung {Review}

The last book you finished?

Shadowshapers by Daniel Jose Older

Weirdest thing you used as a bookmark?

I don’t use a lot of bookmarks (I dog ear books whoops call me guilty!). The only weird thing I can think of is a pencil.

Used books, yes or no?

Yes, I love cheap books

Top three favorite genres?

Mystery/Thriller, Fantasy, Philosophy (I don’t know if that counts we will just go with it)

Borrow or buy?Image result for overdrive

Borrow. Like I said, Overdrive is my best friend. Free books, new and old and I get to keep them for 21 days! Best app ever!

Characters or plot?

I need a plot lmao.

Long or short book?

Short.

Long or short chapters?

Short. I hate long chapters

Image result for and then there were noneName the first three books you think of.

Dark Places,

And Then There Were None

Crooked Kingdom

Books that make you laugh or cry?

Laugh, I love a giggle.

Our world or fictional worlds?

Fictional

Image result for audiobooksAudiobooks: yes or no?

Not a fan but has used them a couple of times

Do you ever judge a book by its cover?

Yeah. If a book cover

Book to movie or book to TV adaptation?

Movie

Image result for percy jackson seriesSeries or standalone?

Series


TAG YOU’RE IT

@slipintobooks

Louise @geniereads

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