Book & Movie Reviews, Reviews

A #BookReview of #AUniverseOfWishes, A #WeNeedDiverseBooks Anthology – #BookTour

Thanks to Terminal Tours, I was able to get an advanced readers copy of the fantasy-themed short story anthology, A Universe of Wishes: A We Need Diverse Books Anthology. This anthology was edited by Dhonielle Clayton and included authors like Samira Ahmed, Zoraida Córdova, Kwame Mbalia, Tochi Onyebuchi, and many more authors of colors.

In her editor’s letter, Clayton talks about growing up as a reader of color and not seeing herself in fantasy novels. This was something that I could relate to. While I always had stories, like The Logan Family Saga by Mildred D. Taylor or The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake, to read if I wanted to see real-world images of myself in the 90s if I wanted to read a fantasy novel with African-American characters, my pickings were slim.

With the We Need Diverse campaign inception in 2014, the field of publishing has been opened up to the point where authors of color have been given the space to tell their own stories and even been granted acclaim for their work. Even though there is more work to be done in the industry, based on the annual statistics from the Children’s Cooperative Book Center (CCBC) and Lee & Low.

Reading through A Universe of Wishes, I was pleasantly surprised to read stories, like “Liberia” by Kwame Mbalia, where readers are shown a story of where the love of one’s family takes center stage. Having Mbalia speak to African-Americans’ collectivist nature and centering the magic of this cultural trait warmed my heart.

Likewise, reading “The Takeback Tango” by Rebecca Roanhorse, where a teen thief sets out to reclaim her planet’s artifacts, is reminiscent of my favorite scene from Black Panther with Kilmonger in the British Museum. Having Roanhorse show the power that comes from taking ownership over one’s heritage is what I love to see!

As a lover of Disney’s Tangled, “Longer Than the Threads of Time” by Zoraida Córdova was also a treat. However, like so many stories in this anthology, I wanted the stories to be so much longer. 

A Universe of Wishes holds all the magic a reader could want. Having authors of color flex their muscles and show creativity outside the normal realm of “suffering” that so many BIPOC writers are pigeonholed into to get their break in the publishing industry was refreshing.

If you enjoyed this anthology, I’d highly recommend looking into all the featured writers’ works and read Her Stories by Virginia Hamilton, which was one of my favorite short story collections of African-American folktales and fairy tales as a kid.

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Book & Movie Reviews, Reviews

Sadness Between The Pages: A Book Review For “The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green

This book was finished on March 12, 2013. 

I give The Fault In Our Stars by John Green a solid 3 stars.  

I’d like to preface this review with the disclaimer that I do not mean to be jerky. However, my feelings in this review come from a place of wonderment at the state of emotion that come from bringing certain topics up in our society. 

That being said, something that I find so interesting about stories that deal with illnesses is that they seem to skirt the issues of being sick and the “perks” that terminally ill people seem to receive. However, John Green stands stoically in his authorship and calls us all out on our bull****.

Both, Augustus and Hazel are made into optimistic if not angsty teenagers who are speeding toward oblivion furiously reaching out for a lifeline to keep them tethered to this world. While,I respect Green’s writing style and story, I found that the characters themselves are not entirely new to literature. Hazel becomes the symbolic character that gets left behind once her boyfriend gets spirited off (no pun intended) to the after world and Augustus is the character who dies before his time. Together, their story while cute in some spots and heart-wrenchingly sad in others is not one that was fresh enough for me to fall down in total awe upon it’s ending.

Yet, I can say that I was enticed by the idea that two people could go on this sort of journey together to excavate a story’s ending from their favorite author half-way across the world. Green produces this adventure in a way that’s so realistic that I found myself seriously thunderstruck when I got to the scene where Peter Van Houten denies these two cancer-ridden teenagers their last grand “wish.” At this point in the story, I came to the conclusion that maybe what people like Augustus and Hazel really need is not so much our pity for them but, our understanding that they are really just individuals who are just like their “healthy” contemporaries who are searching for life’s answers. Therefore, the one thing that seriously struck me in this novel is that people like Augustus and Hazel are no different than you or I. Like us, their death is inevitable. However, unlike us, they have a ballpark figure of when their final days are going to draw to a close. 

Comment below and tell me what you thought of the #TFIOS book!

Overall, I found the book to be an interesting and funny read with a light romance laced throughout the plot. I would recommend the book to others as a conversation starter but, not as a book that needs to be continuously read to understand it.

You can watch the film adaptation on Amazon Prime.

(Originally posted on blogger on Saturday, March 30, 2013.)

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Book & Movie Reviews

Playing Dress Up: A Book Review On Lola & The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I gave this book 3 stars.

You know those books who get raved about by everybody in all of Booktopia and you tell yourself, “I’m going to read this book because it must be fan-tastic if everybody else loves it so much?”….Whelp,  Lola & The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins falls under that category for me.

I chose to read this book before its companion because well, Anna & The French Kiss was checked out at my local library and this was all they had at the time. I went into the book all drummed up and ready to sing its praises afterwards. However,…I was faced with disappointment.

While this book isn’t bad, it’s not technically good either. The characters in this story seemed to me to be ones that were harvested from other YA Fiction and placed smack-dab in the middle of Perkins’ novel. For instance, Lola is a somewhat contrived character who is labeled as the fashionable/artsy daughter of a same-sex male couple. The couple adopted Lola from one of the dad’s drug addicted sister when she was younger and wasn’t ready to raise a child.

Perkins also gives Lola the somewhat obvious aspiration to become a costume designer and formulates Lola’s character to dress up as different “characters” throughout the novel to mark herself as an individual while also showing her creative side. Keeping with this “individual rebel” act, Lola’s boyfriend, Max is delegated the role of the 20-somethin year old rocker who treats everyone else like crap besides Lola (or so it seems in the beginning). From here, we get the return of Cricket, the goofy/smart boy from next door who Lola was previously involved with and the usual sparks start to fly.

 Major Things That Bothered Me About The Book:

1. To me,  Lola and Cricket’s courtship falls flat and the characters also comes off as a tad mismatched. Cricket’s character seems so juvenile while, Lola seems to be this worldly girl who captures everyone’s attention.

2. Lola’s refusal to acknowledge her feelings for Cricket sends her in a relentless circle dance. She goes from not wanting to say how she feels. To hiding her actual feelings from Max and Cricket. Then, when she finally gets to the point where she can’t hide her feelings  anymore, Lola has to confront Max and he breaks her heart and leaves her in ultra-goth mode (which, she vehemently denies being in).

3. By the novel’s end, the only thing left to do is to “tidy up” and write a final romance sequence for Lola and Cricket……but wait!…..Perkins decides to go the extra mile and spice things up by giving Lola a final chance to showcase her clothing designs in the form of Calliope, Cricket’s twin sister who happens to be a figure skater. This chance for Lola to showcase her talent seemed so random in the midst of the story’s ending but, it does give readers the chance to see Lola’s versatility in fashion. Suffice to say, Perkins has Lola rescue the day and then, sends both Cricket and Lola on their blissful way to a ball-like ending with Lola wearing a gown inspired by Marie Antoinette’s fashion and Cricket looking dapper in a regular suit.

Even though I would label this book as a typical YA love story, my biggest gripe with the story was that it didn’t feel authentic. I felt as if I’d read the conversations between Lola and Cricket before and seen the “boy loves girl but, girl’s with another guy” storyline before. Even Lola’s zany outfits just seemed to be pilfered from other books with similar plots. I’m still looking forward to reading Anna & The French Kiss and even Isla & The Happily Ever After but, this book didn’t exactly work me into a frenzy. Yet, If you’re looking for a light, quirky read I’d suggest this book.

Cheers.

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