292: Bait

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Synopsis

No one is coming to your aid. We have ensured this.

Six strangers wake up on a remote island in the Florida Keys with no memory of their arrival. They soon discover their common bond: all of them are heroin addicts. As the first excruciating pangs of withdrawal make themselves felt, the six notice a yacht anchored across open water. On it lurk four shadowy figures, protected by the hungry sharks that patrol the waves. So begins a dangerous game. The six must undertake the impossible—swim to the next island where a cache of heroin awaits, or die trying. When alliances form, betrayal is inevitable. As the fight to survive intensifies, the stakes reach terrifying heights—and their captors’ motives finally begin to emerge.

The Good

There is commentary on so many things:

  • How people see drug addicts
  • Drug addiction
  • War on drugs
  • Greed

Looking at how some bookish people reacted to the main characters being drug addicts this is not a misplaced commentary.

Also, I liked the horror moments that did appear.

The Bad

The racial representation is questionable.

I think this novel should have been longer just so there could have been more suspense. It spent a large amount of time building the character and not enough time actually having the horror happen. If it was longer there could have been more on the Lord of The Flies and Jaws elements that the tag on book talks about.

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276: Man of Steel

cat, cute, facebook cover, lithuania, love cats, world

Synopsis

(This is synopsis is weird so I scratched out the not really important information)

SUPERMAN IS BACK – THE OFFICIAL MOVIE NOVELIZATION!

The film, from director Zack Snyder, stars Henry Cavill (The Tudors) as Superman/Clark Kent, three-time Oscar® nominee Amy Adams (The Fighter) as Daily Planet journalist Lois Lane, and Oscar® nominee Laurence Fishburne (What’s Love Got to Do with It) as her editor-in-chief, Perry White. Starring as Clark Kent’s adoptive parents, Martha and Jonathan Kent, are Oscar® nominee Diane Lane (Unfaithful) and Academy Award® winner Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves).

Squaring off against the superhero are two other surviving Kryptonians, the villainous General Zod, played by Oscar® nominee Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road), and Faora, Zod’s evil partner, played by Antje Traue. Also from Superman’s native Krypton are Lara Lor-Van, Superman’s mother, played by Ayelet Zurer, and Superman’s father, Jor-El, portrayed by Academy Award® winner Russell Crowe (Gladiator).

Rounding out the cast are Harry Lennix as U.S. military man General Swanwick, as well as Christopher Meloni as Colonel Hardy.
 
Man of Steel is being produced by Charles Roven, Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas and Deborah Snyder. The screenplay was written by David S. Goyer, from a story by Goyer and Nolan, based upon characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Thomas Tull and Lloyd Phillips are serving as executive producers.

The Good

  • Krypton~ (best part of the entire novel) most of Superman stories do not spend that much time here. Usually, the story starts five or ten minutes before Superman is being put into the ship to earth. So spending six chapters learning about krypton government, culture, and society really enriched the story.
  • More insight into characters
  • Analyzing the whole conflict between Zod and Superman/Jor-El

The Bad

  • suffers from flaws of the movie: they made superman all dark/superman manpaining/can we have superman just enjoy being a hero like Wonderwoman
  • suffers from flaws because it is not a movie: scientists, military, and government mambo jumbo  was boring
  • boring for large part of the book
  • Lois Lane

The Meh

  • The Destruction of Metropolis: reading the novel made me realize the destruction  that Superman did with the entire fight of this movie (people talked about this a lot when the movie came out but I do not know why I could not see it). The destruction seemed like the sort that is extreme global catastrophe level but has not been delivered on (doubt it will be)
  • Lois and Clark has zero chemistry

[featured image from https://favim.com/image/625255/ and the synopsis  is from goodreads]

279: Spartacus: Morituri (Spartacus #2)

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Synopsis

BLOOD UPON THE SANDS Spartacus is the hit TV series which has captivated viewers with its blood-soaked action, exotic sexuality, villainy and heroism. This original novel from the world of Spartacus: Blood and Sand relates a thrilling new tale of blood, sex and politics set in the brutal world of the arena. Spartacus and his fellow gladiators endure bout after bout of fierce and bloody fighting, while their opponent’s numbers never seem to shrink. Can Batiatus’s ludus survive against such odds? An epic battle ensues against a vicious enemy determined to soak the arena in the blood of his rivals.

The Good

This book is set around season 1

  • Seeing stuff from season 1 that does not exist past that season
  • Captures the characters voice and their motivations well- which is what you want from a novelization. Seeing words that I could see coming out of the characters mouth made me ultimately decide to buy this book.
  • Diverse cast: just like the show
  • Hits on the important povs: most of the people who have a point of view in the show make an appearance
  • Intrigue- like the show
  • Roman mythology

The Bad

  • Repetitive- feels like the story got stuck in a loop for a large amount of the novel and only got out of it in the last 100 or so pages.

The Meh

I question if the sexual violence shown in the book was handled well. Then again does the show handle sexual violence well?

What next?

I did a Top Ten Tuesday list of my novelization tbr

Currently reading: Man of Steel

 

 

 

280:The Hate U Give

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Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

The Good

I have a lot of thoughts which makes me wish that I would have done a readalong for it. I  wish someone else did one too but I think I understand (possibly/more than likely) why. I believe many people did not do a readalong for it because  there are so many touchy subjects in this book. Anyway, on to what I liked about this book…

  • Not white centered: One of my fears was that it was going to be for white people thus watered down/sanitized. My fear came from many other y.a. novels with black main characters that I have read who go to a boarding school or a school that is majority white/mixed racially (which many people see as the dream for interracial harmony but do not talk about the reality of what assimilation has meant for poc in general). My fears were mostly unfounded because Starr was not cut off from the black community.
  • It is set in modern black lives matter world through the eyes of a black girl: black lives matter and police brutality is not all new all different it is a thing in this world.
  • So much black culture is shown: it made me think about how much I do not hear books talk about black culture.
  • Shows the trauma that comes with being involved with police brutality: seeing friend be murdered and people’s reactions to it
  • Allowing Starr to grieve and not fall into the strong black woman trope. Her trauma does not go away after five minutes. Also, she does not just have bad days of her being sad.
  • Bringing police brutality and all the issues in T.H.U.G to a young adult novel-thus a young audience. By putting everything into a young adult novel it can reach a wider audience than a literary novel.
  • Cuts all ties that would lead to respectability politics
  • Poc solidarity
  • White feminism: I mean you can have entire middle grade books about white feminism casually but it is something else to have one about racism
  • Intraracial black issues
  • Reality of interracial relationships: I don’t know how I feel about Chris and Starr relationship. For a long time the only thing we see Chris partaking in is black culture like making references to Fresh Prince of Belaire but at the same not knowing that much about police brutality (appreciation vs appropriation). It annoys me because going along the points above people think that the work of solving racism is just putting poc and white people together. His ignorance/naiveté got on my nerves at many points but he is not terrible like Hailey but still… They are in high school too so growth can come later. Then characters in THUG said he ain’t white he light skinned, nah. Nah!
  • Moral ambiguity to black characters: they are not one dimensional tropes.
  • Stay in hood vs suburbia: suburbia≠utopia
  • White privilege
  • and so so so much more

Emotionally it was an enjoyable book to read.

The Meh

Police are given nuance with Uncle Carlos- which I get but at the same time it is annoying that black people have to go not all cops when talking about police brutality.

The story lightly treads some things that it could go harder on (but also I know it could not be everything, do everything, and hit everything)

The Bad

Do I think it wants to jampack every issue in one book? I can’t get mad because this info all of it, the entire book needs to get out to everyone who can read it.  Nonetheless, there are moments put in the book that felt unnatural/inorganic to the story.

The story wrapped up some things in a way that was too neat and convenient.

Ending Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book a lot. I just would love to see more critique about it (that is not obvious/blatant/just plain anti-black racism because there is a lot of those on goodreads). I am enjoying all the love that her book is getting and cannot wait for her next novel.

Here is a critique of the book that is notable: http://blacknerdproblems.com/the-hate-u-give-blm-gets-the-novel-treatment/

288: Best of Possible Worlds

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Synopsis

A proud and reserved alien society finds its homeland destroyed in an unprovoked act of aggression, and the survivors have no choice but to reach out to the indigenous humanoids of their adopted world, to whom they are distantly related. They wish to preserve their cherished way of life but come to discover that in order to preserve their culture, they may have to change it forever.

Now a man and a woman from these two clashing societies must work together to save this vanishing race—and end up uncovering ancient mysteries with far-reaching ramifications. As their mission hangs in the balance, this unlikely team—one cool and cerebral, the other fiery and impulsive—just may find in each other their own destinies . . . and a force that transcends all.

The Good

Whenever I come into a sci-fi/fantasy novel I go through an overwhelming sense of disappointment because they are almost always never action-y. The Best of All Possible Worlds first chapter started the book off seeming like this was going to be an action book. I’m so glad that I did not give this book a DNF when I realized it was not going to be what I though it would be. I would have missed out on the quiet subtle quality of this book.

Whenever I read this for a while I got this good feeling. It is actually pretty rare now that I get a good feeling or any feeling from a novel so it is amazing (and kind sad actually) to even look back on this. It all felt like a journey.

One of the main things I liked is the world building – learning about the new worlds and civilizations. The feeling of going on an adventure is one of the parts of fiction I miss.

Black female main character and her families dynamic was interesting.

Romance is built! You do not know how rare this is. A lot of romances in books are insta-lovey or sex=love. The romance even managed to not derail the plot.

The Bad

Could not remember who half the people on the ship or what they did for the ship. This is probably completely my fault for not paying attention but I feel like the other characters were introduced sporadically or something.

Who all the crew mates were was not the only thing that confused me. I was kind of lost a lot of times to what happened. Some people on goodreads brought up that this story is episodic, picking up stories then dropping them. I think the episodicness of the story made it possibly easy to get confused. I agree that this was a slightly annoying aspect of the novel but these mini adventures felt like a journey so I enjoyed them mostly.

Towards the ending the romance went into some tropey gender roles stuff when it could have have been more progressive. I bring this up because it was progressive in other aspects of the story.

The Meh

Best of All Possible Worlds is going to set me up for so many mediocre/terrible sci-fi books I will not end up liking.

[Image and synopsis of Best of All Possible Worlds is from goodreads]

300: A Garden Where Friendship Grows

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A few tiny seeds have grown into a very big idea! Nahla’s science project turns out to be the start of a group garden on her school’s rooftop. During their lunch hour, students put on their gardening gloves to plant, weed and water. Thanks to the school, yummy veggies are turning up everywhere, including the school cafeteria and the Heling Hands Kitchen.

School spirit is at an all-time high. But it seems like not everyone is happy. Somebody is trying to ruin the success of the Get Fresh Tomato Fest, the rooftop garden party.

Is it her classmate who calls himself “the potato chip king” and makes faces when he sees all the new healthy choices at the lunch counter? Is it the girl who loves playing tricks? Or maybe it’s the maintenance crew, who complained to the principal about dirt being tracked through the school. Nahla is determined to save the day and the garden.

The Good

  • Black family
  • Illustrations

I got this book with my Nahla doll which was awesome. I enjoy seeing a story where a young black girl having fun. This is especially important because there are not a lot of Our Generation dolls that are black with books.

The Bad

The biggest problem with this book is that it is not for me, so it just read too young for me. A Garden Where Friendship Grows had similar problems that another chapter books I read had: it is everywhere and goes from one point to another without there being a main problem then a main conclusion. Instead it is a bunch of little problems resolved throughout the story. All of this is not a problem because it is meant for little girls so yeah.

Conclusion

Overall, it was not for me because I’m an old lady but I’m happy it exists for little girls (especially the black ones).

286: The Vegetarian (Possibly Spoilery)

Synopsis

Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.

A disturbing, yet beautifully composed narrative told in three parts, The Vegetarian is an allegorical novel about modern day South Korea, but also a story of obsession, choice, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.

The Good

It is interesting reading the first part of this having been a vegetarian for so long because  it has some experiences of when I first started (even though, she would actually be classified as a vegan).  It made me think about my vegetarianism which is something I haven’t read about that much or at all. Honestly, it is not really about her just being a vegetarian for that long. This book is really about mental illness, trauma, and misogyny.

I enjoyed the varying states that this book showed of misogyny and mental health

Mental Health

In the two different mental health states one person is considered outside bounds of mental illness aka they seem ok so they aren’t the ones who look like they need help. Then you have someone who obviously in societies eyes needs help.

Misogyny

When I first started this book the heavy-handed misogyny bothered me. I don’t have a problem with it being portrayed but it felt so obvious. I felt showing misogyny that is more quiet and everyday would actually help to challenge misogyny. I do feel that later on it did show a form of everyday misogyny.

Obvious misogyny ~ sees a woman as anything more than an object or vessel for him and has no remorse about it.

Everyday misogyny/nice guy misogyny ~  quieter but just as vicious if not even more  because the character has  moments of empathy that even in my eyes made me think so many times he was going to do the right thing. He knew things were wrong and felt bad about it but kept doing said things. The result ended up being the same with the first misogynist.

I really liked the surreal/weird parts and wish that this book was longer to talk more fully on these topics.

The Bad

The misogyny still felt like it went in ways that were in your face vs quieter but it is short so that may be why. I did not like the ending because it left me feeling like the story really wasn’t over. The Vegetarian could have easily been longer.

The Meh

I did not like the ending because it left me feeling like the story really wasn’t over. However, I can’t say I dislike it because in a way I respect the ending. I respect the way it did not give easy answers when dealing with mental illness.

Overall, I liked it and was sucked into it for two days but  when it ended I  kind of felt like o.k. that’s it.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

[synopsis is from goodreads]