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/

T5W: SFF TBR

Recently, I have been in a mood for reading some science fiction (well, some of these are fantasy but I am more in a mood for science fiction. I think I actually may like sci-fi more than fantasy) books.

T5W Group  where meme originated can be found on the link.

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1. Unplugged

Humanity is split into the App World and the Real World—an extravagant virtual world for the wealthy and a dying physical world for the poor. Years ago, Skylar Cruz’s family sent her to the App World for a chance at a better life.

Now Skye is a nobody, a virtual sixteen-year-old girl without any glamorous effects or expensive downloads to make her stand out in the App World. Yet none of that matters to Skye. All she wants is a chance to unplug and see her mother and sister again.

But when the borders between worlds suddenly close, Skye loses that chance. Desperate to reach her family, Skye risks everything to get back to the physical world. Once she arrives, however, she discovers a much larger, darker reality than the one she remembers.

Status: Currently reading but waiting to get from the library. I already sampled the first three chapters.

What I like about Unplugged is that it has a dystopia that I feel is plausible. It has so many allusions to current day issues that black and brown people deal with and main character is latina. Also, this would be a good series to get into because the second one came out recently and the third  one comes out in December.

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2. The Between

When Hilton was just a boy, his grandmother sacrificed her life to save him from drowning. Thirty years later, he begins to suspect that he was never meant to survive that accident, and that dark forces are working to rectify that mistake. When Hilton’s wife, the only elected African-American judge in Dade County, FL, begins to receive racist hate mail, he becomes obsessed with protecting his family. Soon, however, he begins to have horrible nightmares, more intense and disturbing than any he has ever experienced. Are the strange dreams trying to tell him something? His sense of reality begins to slip away as he battles both the psychotic threatening to destroy his family and the even more terrifying enemy stalking his sleep. Chilling and utterly convincing, The Between follows the struggles of a man desperately trying to hold on to the people and life he loves, but may have already lost. The compelling plot holds readers in suspense until the final, profound moment of resolution.

Status: Currently reading – same as Unplugged except I am going to buy this one because it is cheap online.

Horror and fantasy!

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3. On the Edge of Gone

January 29, 2035.

That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.

Then a last-minute encounter leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship that’s scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But each passenger must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?

When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

Status: Haven’t started yet.

I moved it up my TBR because I think it would be fun to read it for autism awareness month. With the line “When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?” it is a sci-fi I have to read.

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4. Sorcerer to the Crown

Magic and mayhem collide with the British elite in this whimsical and sparkling debut.

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.

But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

Status: Read the prologue but have not read further yet.

Black. Victorian. fantasy.

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5. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there.

But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she‘s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war.

Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this episodic tale weaves together the adventures of nine eclectic characters, each on a journey of their own.

Status: Still haven’t started yet.

A lot of sff books are doom and gloom so I like the idea of reading something hopeful. Having a book about exploring species, cultures, and worlds is appealing. I have not  read a book with any of these things since reading The Best of All Possible Worlds last year so I hope it is good.

Netgalley DNFs #2

I got all of these books from netgalley for my honest review.

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The Takedown

Pub: 4/11/17

Kyla Cheng doesn’t expect you to like her. For the record, she doesn’t need you to. On track to be valedictorian, she’s president of her community club, a debate team champ, plus the yummy Mackenzie Rodriguez has firmly attached himself to her hip. She and her three high-powered best friends don’t just own their senior year at their exclusive Park Slope, Brooklyn high school, they practically define the hated species Popular. Kyla’s even managed to make it through high school completely unscathed.

Until someone takes issue with this arrangement.

A week before college applications are due, a video of Kyla “doing it” with her crush-worthy English teacher is uploaded to her school’s website. It instantly goes viral, but here’s the thing: it’s not Kyla in the video. With time running out, Kyla delves into a world of hackers, haters and creepy stalkers in an attempt to do the impossible-take something off the internet-all while dealing with the fallout from her own karmic footprint. Set in near-future Brooklyn, where privacy is a bygone luxury and every perfect profile masks damning secrets, The Takedown is a stylish, propulsive, and provocative whodunit, asking who would you rely on if your tech turned against you?

Why DNF? It reminded me of Before I Fall which I did not finish either because the main characters were not nice people. The thing is that I do like ambiguous/possibly mean/possibly villainous characters. What I do not like is that the main character meanness is just an average high mean girl meanness. The way that the main character built things up she was going to be more than that. I don’t know what is going on in terms of the story and what I see doesn’t catch me at all.

Questionable: There is a lot of mention of thinness in the first few chapters, conversation about how main character would rather girls who advance forward in life because of their brains (a woman can use her brains to use sexism to advance her forward)  I only read a few chapters so it may deal with these things later.

Liked: There is a relationship between two people of color, the embellishments in each chapter

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Girl Out of Water

Pub: 5/1/17

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves.

Why DNF?  Girl Out of Water is not a bad book and that is the hard part about letting it go.  I just know that I could (and have) put it down and forget about it. It is in that middle area of its okay but I’m not engaged by it.

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Hollywood Homicide

Pub: 8/8/17

Dayna Anderson doesn’t set out to solve a murder. All the semi-famous, mega-broke black actress wants is to help her parents keep their house. After witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she figures pursuing the fifteen-grand reward isn’t the craziest thing a Hollywood actress has done for some cash.

But what starts as simply trying to remember a speeding car soon blossoms into a full-on investigation. As Dayna digs deeper into the victim’s life, she wants more than just reward money. She’s determined to find the poor woman’s killer too. When she connects the accident to a notorious Hollywood crime spree, Dayna chases down leads at paparazzi hot spots, celeb homes and movie premieres. She loves every second—until someone tries to kill her.

And there are no second takes in real life.

Why DNF? Once I got to later part of the first chapter when we reached the mystery that is when things went down for me. I didn’t find the mystery interesting.

Liked: I liked the first chapter a lot. The idea (and follow through) of the main character being a former child star was really entertaining.

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Rotten Stepbrother

Pub: 8/1/17

AGAIN, Holden?! First you broke Cinderella, now Beauty and the Beast? Your stepsister is ready to strangle you. Pointing out that the Beast kidnapped Beauty and only fell for her looks has somehow put the real Beast in jail! Now there’ll never be a happy ending. You need to go into the fairy tale world of rural France and– what do you mean you don’t speak French?!

Why DNF?  I did not realize that this book was part of a series (it’s the 2nd book). The first book comes out the same day as the second so I cannot review it. Also, what I read so far I was not into.

Liked: Cover (the beast and beauty are my favorite part of it)

Netgalley DNFs #1

I requested all of these books from netgalley for a review. It sucks to request a book then be picked just to DNF the book.

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Finding Mighty

Pub: 5/30/17

Along the train lines north of New York City, twelve-year-old neighbors Myla and Peter search for the link between Myla’s necklace and the disappearance of Peter’s brother, Randall. Thrown into a world of parkour, graffiti, and diamond-smuggling, Myla and Peter encounter a band of thugs who are after the same thing as Randall. Can Myla and Peter find Randall before it’s too late, and their shared family secrets threaten to destroy them all? Drawing on urban art forms and local history, Finding Mighty is a mystery that explores the nature of art and the unbreakable bonds of family.

Why DNF?  Overall the bit that I did read was okay but I was not engaged into the story.

Liked: Has an Indian main character, mentions micro-aggressions that happens to Indians in a middle grade novel

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Judas Cypher

Pub: 3/23/17

In a war between man and machine, he must find a way to protect them all…

After a devastating war forced humans to rely on synths for survival, the two have learned to coexist peacefully.

Until now….

When detective Dhata Mays is called in to investigate a homicide, what he uncovers threatens the serenity of this futuristic society. The gruesome murder means only one thing: someone is ready to incite another war. Now, it’s up to Dhata to ensure that the truth stays hidden—to protect both sides of the battle. But can he be unbiased in a black and white world that forces him to take sides?

Why DNF? Feels like average mystery P.I. story with sci-fi added to it (which is good if you are into that type of story), “synthetic racism” which gave me a bad taste of trying to equate racism with not liking synths, all in all it could be summed up with I just am not caught by the story

Liked: Sci-fi bend to a mystery story, the murder and mystery is actually interesting, also the cover

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I’ll Eat When I’m Dead

Pub: 5/2/17

When stylish Hillary Whitney dies alone in a locked, windowless conference room at the offices of high-concept magazine RAGE Fashion Book, her death is initially ruled an unfortunate side effect of the unrelenting pressure to be thin.

But two months later, a cryptic note in her handwriting ends up in the office of the NYPD and the case is reopened, leading Det. Mark Hutton straight into the glamorous life of hardworking RAGE editor Catherine Ono, who insists on joining the investigation. Surrounded by a supporting cast of party girls, Type A narcissists and half-dead socialites, Cat and her colleague Bess Bonner are determined to solve the case and achieve sartorial perfection. But their amateur detective work has disastrous results, and the two ingenues are caught in a web of drugs, sex, lies and moisturizer that changes their lives forever.

Why DNF? The mystery from what I read so far was not grabbing me.

Liked: Cover it is very eye-catching

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Willow Born

Pub: 6/1/17

You’d think waking up fifty years after she died would be the least of Collette’s problems. 

Years ago, witch hunters came to Carolina and devoured the Willows. Sixteen-year-old Collette, a powerful empath, was one of them. A part of a long line of witches that stretches back as far as the slave auctions of Charleston, she was especially gifted.

Decades later, a series of strange kidnappings prompts a member of her secret coven to make a plea for help and Collette is chosen to answer the call.  But things have changed. Angels have come out of the divine closet and everyone is on the lookout for the supernatural.

Snatched from the Void, she has to choose between a normal life and following the warrior path of the Willows, a coven she didn’t know she belonged to. Soon, problems pile sky-high as she struggles to keep the boy who could blow her cover at arm’s length and her sanity as family secrets come to light in the midst of a serial killer.

In the end it all comes down to destiny, death  and the grey places between good and evil. But then again, when you’re Willow Born death can be just the beginning.

WILLOW BORN is a  stand alone Paranormal Fantasy. Fans of Natalie C. Parker’s Beware the Wild and  Zoraida Cordova’s Labyrinth Lost will be delighted with the book’s mix of supernatural drama, romance and Southern fantasy.

Why DNF? Fatphobia (one of side characters is described as weak and fat) I did not read far enough to see if the label put on him is challenged. Of course on the opposite spectrum the love interest is muscular thus brave. The story overall needs to be polished more.

Liked: black love interest, main character is reborn (born? reincarnated? summoned?) knowing her past, I think overall the story is a good idea

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Pub: 3/1/17

1931. Bronzeville. Chicago. The mage, Frank “Half Dead” Johnson, is a marked man. Literally. A drunken decision fueled by tragedy has left him with half a soul, sorcerous powers, and two centuries to work off his debt to Scratch (aka The Devil) himself.
Watch as “Half Dead” attempts to save his own soul, pay his debt, and help as many people as he can along the way. It’s a hard-hitting Hoodoo Noir highball with just a splash of Southern Gothic. Smack-dab in the dark heart of the Windy City. Hold on tight! It’s going to be a bumpy ride down Hard Times Road.

Why DNF? I did not like the story just based on investment sake. I did not feel propelled to finish it.

(images are from goodreads and synopsis are from netgalley)

 

 

Picture Book Reviews: Netgalley

I received all of these picture books for free in exchange for my review from netgalley.

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Pub: May 16 2017

Liked: Cute main character and book. She is a rambunctious main character, has the diversity (parents are interracial couple is normalized), art

Disliked: It was very this event is happening then this event is happening (but it is for kids so yeah)

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Pub: April 15 2007

Liked: Making worry into a monster that is kind of scary,  lurking and hiding waiting to pounce. In the end I liked that the story not only shows what worry does but also how to combat it.

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Pub: Nov 1 2016

Liked: Creativity of plot (made me think of Inside Out at first but it goes beyond that to be more). It is about holding onto something to get through adversity for kids, Latina main character

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Pub: Oct 11 2016

Liked: Teaches kids about facing their fears and it is a unique story.

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Pub: May 16 2017

Liked: The art is really cute and bright. It is not an obviously you are learning things type of potty training book. If you are trying to get kids to potty train you could sneak this in.

[all images are from goodreads]

Allegedly Readalong: Chapters 17-18

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Pre-reading Thoughts Before Final Chapters:

I get that there are no easy answers so it makes sense if the ending is open but I will probably not like it. Again, this I do not feel like talking thing with Mary is old on page 200/218.

Chapter 17

I can see they are trying make Mary’s mom three dimensional but eh.

Q: So Mary brother died of natural causes or what? And is that what made her mom become who she is today?

Q: How believable is Mary (as a nine year old) keeping the cross and burying it all without prints?

Like she knew she would have to testify now. Unrealistic! Also, you could have had this ready 50 pages ago when you first met the lawyers.

Q: So the whole Dr. Cross meeting was dropped or what?

Chapter 18

Okay, Dr. Cross meeting came through. Mom and daughter thing is annoying!

Q: Why is Mary changing her story now? Weak!

Ending (Initial reaction):

It feels like an unpolished mess in ways. She either (or both) could not commit to one true ending and/or could not create a future for Mary because “realism”.

Q: So all of this was a plot to be the perfect daughter for white people? So did she kill Alyssa or not?

Ending (after a couple of days and further thought. since I finished the book before I could finish doing these posts week by week I had the time to actually go over what I wrote while drafting them. It has given me greater perspective.)

I think that the ending makes sense now but I still do not like it.The story did build up the idealization Mary has of Alyssa and her family. In the earlier chapters I did actually find it weird how Mary was acting.

I was ranting to my brother afterwards saying having the main character hold something back from the reader is one of the things you just do  not do in a first person narrative. It is probably one of the rules of writing to not do (especially in the mystery genre).

Q: Do you think the story left itself open for a sequel?

Yes! There are so many unanswered questions left behind. The only thing she would have to deal with is this whole Mary doing this for this idealized image of Alyssa family. Basically, making it where Mary is guilty.

I am definitely going to do a review that talks that collects all (or most of) my thoughts on the book after having some time to think about the book as a whole.

Allegedly Readalong: Chapters 13-16

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Chapter 13

I forgot about Alyssa father. We are going to see more of outside reactions now (also, misogynoir). I guess it is good for her to make strides without Ted.

Chapter 14

I told you new girl is a psychopath.

Q: Why is Dr. Cross so creepy? Is she lying about files she has on Mary? How does Mary know her?

I think she met Mary as a child way before Mary could remember and will serve to fill gaps in Marys past. I do not think she is lying about the files she has on Mary. If anything the files “conveniently” disappeared some other way since everyone hates Mary.

Chapter 15

So sick of Mary hoarding secrets so the plot can continue!

I do not know how I feel about new girl turning into a villain.

Q: Can you get into school with a big criminal record?

I get running away thing but this plan seems (sounds) good on paper but not actually  good. I do not know if I completely feel either plan (Ted vs Lawyer). Long term if she wants to be a teacher or almost any professional profession she needs to be exonerated.

Chapter 16

Q: Are we ever gonna find out  who Mary real parents are?

Please Ms. Richardson do not adopt Mary baby!

Mary is being real dumb about meeting Ms. Richardson thing. I get that it may have had to happen for plot reasons but ugh.

Overall

We had a lot of “realistic” conclusions- Ted having to be distant.

I feel I am going to be disappointed with the ending since it is more than likely going to be open ended. It will not solve anything thus making Allegedly a contemporary and not a mystery.

Personally, I wanted them to get more into the actual court proceedings. If they don’t drop this bomb with mom (that mary has been hoarding from reader even though this is first person story) it will probably get a star knocked off.