The Great American Read

I am so excited that PBS is hosting an 8 episode series of finding America’s best loved novel. That’s right, NOVEL. Watchers of the show get to vote for their favorite book. The official list for The Great American Read is below:

The Great American Read list

How does the voting work, you ask?

Voting will open online and on social media with the launch of the two-hour premiere episode and continue throughout the summer, leading up to the finale in October 2018. Over the summer, viewers can vote online and through hashtag voting via Facebook and Twitter. In the fall, viewers will also be able to cast their votes by using SMS and toll-free voting.

Let’s Talk about the List

I am both pleased and appalled at this list. I had to show my Shakespeare-loving friend this list. Her face was full of confusion and wonder, like mine had been upon reading the list. The list is filled with books I love and could re-read for the rest of my life. The list is also full of Authors I love, but I did not LOVE the books of the authors that were picked.

Honestly, why wasn’t Slaughterhouse 5 picked?

Some of the books and Authors I have never heard of. Some of these books have been on my “to-read” list for years. Some of the books I have started reading and could not finish due to whatever reason. Some of the books are already movies, have recently became, or will become movies. Some of the books have a huge fan following: Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and Hunger Games . . . just to name a few.

Who do I think is going to win?

While I love a vast majority of these books and their movie adaptations, I’m going to go with Harry Potter. No book series in existence has captured the heart and soul of growing up and how challenging that is. Then J.K. Rowling puts teenagers in charge of basically overthrowing the Wizarding World’s Government. Harry Potter is available in almost every language both the books and movies, has a Broadway show, has 4 theme parks ( two in US, one in Japan, one in Australia), a traveling museum, and let us not forget the textbooks Harry used such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them which also turned into a bestseller and a movie.

When is the Great American Read happening?

May 22, 8 pm c/t (9pm eastern time) on your local PBS station. Don’t have cable? Not a problem! PBS can be found on a variety of devices and streaming services.

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Purple Hibiscus: Book Review

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I honestly don’t know where to start in my process of review the book. I finished the novel on September 25 and I still feel feelings from the book. You know, those feelings that you get once a book touches your soul in a way that you will never be the same? It’s like that. I hoped to post this review that same week, but it couldn’t be done. This book is so amazing I had to perfect this review.

Pure raw emotion. That’s what you get from this novel. Kambili’s fear of everything. The way she copes is heartbreaking. The entire novel is heartbreaking. That is what real life is like – overall heartbreaking with moments and times of joy.

There is so much going on in this novel. Kambili and her family are Catholic and her dad rules the house with an iron fist. Kambili and her brother, Jaja, are terrified of not being perfect in their father’s eyes. Kambili often admits “I wish I thought to say/do that” so she can be praised by her father.

While her father owns his own factories and newspaper, he also donates a large amount of money to the community, gaining the title of  “Omelora”. No one ever knows of the things that he does in his personal life. They don’t know that he caused his wife to have a total of 3 miscarriages. They don’t know that the children are afraid to get of their specified schedule that he made because they never knew how their father would punish them. The fear that he instilled in his children made them to be robots and not their actual self.

That is what the novel is about. It’s about a 15 year old girl finding her voice and her personal sense of freedom in a hostile living environment, both inside and outside the home. While the domestic violence and child abuse is going on in the home, outside in country  where they live, Nigeria, a military coup starts to run the country. People are dying. Conspiracy theories start to form.

Despite all of this, Kambili finds her voice at her Aunts house, where she goes to stay for a bit due to certain circumstances. She finds her smile with Father Amadi. They form a friendship and affection towards one another.

This novel is about choices and how even one choice is good it can still have dire consequences. It is also about having faith and accepting differences. Just because someone else have a different view of something, does not mean that they are going to hell, as Kambili learns.

The interaction between Kambili and her brother, Jaja, is what makes this book. They don’t speak with words often, they speak to each other with their eyes. They know how to read each other’s thoughts in the stillness of the silence. They automatically know things about each other this way.

The indirect main character of the novel is Kambili’s paternal grandfather, Papa Nnukwu. Everything seems to be centered around him and the consequences of what happens to Kambili and Jaja after they spent time with him.

This novel is shockingly breathtaking and will make you want to read it all in one sitting. I’d like to thank the Goodreads group, Readers with a Cause for picking this novel for our book discussion.

This novel is being added to my favorites list.

Is it one of your favorites? Let me know!

An Abundance of Katherines Book Review

 

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Nineteen Katherines to be exact. That’s how many girlfriends named Katherine, child prodigy Colin Singleton has had. The last one, referred to as K XIX, is the one that broke him. He has a piece missing and doesn’t know how to fix it. He speaks multiple languages and can make an anagram out of any word, but cannot heal/find/replace this missing piece.

Colin having just graduated from High School in Chicago decides to go on a road trip with his best friend and religious-ish Muslim, Hassan.

They talk, the fight, they say “Dingleberry” and love Hardees’s Thickburgers.

They also get a job in the middle of nowhere and make $500 a week. Also, Colin makes his second friend ever, Lindsey.

Colin tries to prove to prove a theoretical math equation in his spare time. I did say he is a child prodigy which apparently equals nerd/geek.

Drama is a given. You will not be disappointed.

Themes include the unknown future, confronting insecurities, and being true to yourself. All three main characters go though all three of these themes.

John Green, how I love thee. This book was one of the most interesting and mind stimulating reads I’ve experienced in a long time. Not only does it go in depth into math with graphs. It also has multiple languages – including my favorite, German.

If you’re not into finding out the answer to if you can predict wither or not a relationship will last, or have an appreciation for other languages, this may not be the book for you.

Don’t worry; it had an appendix and footnotes. You won’t get lost.  This was a witty, funny, and an entertaining read. It only took this avid reader a few hours to devour all of its contents.

The Korean Word For Butterfly

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What an interesting book.

There’s multiple levels to this book and as soon as you’re enthralled in it, it ends.

Poof!

I felt so cheated. I have so many questions left unanswered. I hate when authors do this.

The book is written in multiple point of views of three different characters: Moon, Billie, and Yun-JI. Billie and her boyfriend Joe take a teaching job in Korea. Moon, a worker at the school, is the first person that interacts with the couple. The character of Yun-Ji came out of no where. She also works at the school, but never seemed like an important character to follow. It was confusing.

The novel takes place in 2002-2003 in Korea, while Bush was president of the U.S. Things were not easy for Billie and Joe to be in Korea at a time like this. Two Korean girls got ran over by an American Tank. Some Koreans hated Americans. It was a difficult journey for them from beginning to end, and it did end abruptly.

Moon. Poor Moon. My heart aches for Moon. He’s my favorite character of the novel. He’s the only character that is open about his past and has admitted to making mistakes. He is a strong character and has had his share of defeats.

Yun-Ji is a young Korean woman that is just finding her voice. She lives at home with her traditional mother and always working father. Yun-Ji is what is suppose to be the traditional Korean in this novel to show the cultural differences between Americans and Koreans – especially between her and Billie. The same thing happens to both of them and they handle that differently, of course.

It was a good, short, and deep book. I feel more educated about Korean culture and values now.

I also recieved it for free on Amazon’s Daily Kindle Deals. The book is currently listed for $2.99 on the Kindle store – which is a good price.

 

Lean In: Book Review

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Sheryl Sandberg has received more than her share of publicity as being Facebook’s chief operations officer. With her new book out, Lean In, it’s becoming more difficult to not hear her name on a regular basis. She has made her mark in the technology world. She hit the book world with both feet running. The book also produced something else, an organization, Leanin.org which Sheryl encourages everyone to visit at the end of the book.

The book starts off with Sheryl stating that her grandmother went to UC Berkley, her mother went to college, and Sheryl herself went to Harvard as well as Cambridge. This sent a message of “if you don’t come from a well-educated and financially stable family, you will not be as successful as I am”. Even though she puts it sweetly, it’s kind of a kick to the face. Sheryl Sandberg is what Peggy McIntosh would call “White Privilege”.

The only thing lacking in this book is cultural diversity, or any diversity other than males and females. The American office corporation is mostly populated with white Americans. This is addressed once in the book when an African American business man spoke with Sheryl after she’s been quiet at a business meeting and told her to start speaking up as the only female in the meetings, just like he had to speak up as the only African American in the meetings. Along with needing more women in the workplace, we also need more diversity – more people of different backgrounds.

Before I started reading, I thought the audience for this book were middle to late 20’s who either had an entry level position or for women who have been in the office for a few years. I was wrong. Even though the book offers insight and advice that everyone can use, the book is mainly for older women who are higher in the office work chain that, usually, already have a family and are being passed up for promotions.

The overall theme of the book can be summed up as women’s lack of speaking up in the workplace. This generally covers everything from isolating yourself in meetings to not speaking up during meetings because you are surrounded by people who are higher in rank and of the opposite gender. Women also make sacrifices to their careers by having families and making time for their families. This makes receiving promotions more difficult for women, according to the author. While women need to lean in more at meetings, men need to lean in more at home and help around the house. Sheryl is talking about gender equality.

There are many issues addressed in the book. Sheryl covers feminism, gender equality, business, family, career, leadership, and research. This book was put together beautifully. It flowed and had more than enough research to back up her opinions. She points out, however, that this book is not a self-help, directions on how to be successful, or a mentorship book. This is Sheryl’s manifesto. This is her life, her experiences and journey. With hard work, dedication, a few lucky moments, and some connections, she got where she is today. This book may be Generation Y’s The Feminine Mystique. No one has not tried to start a movement of this scale since, not until Sheryl Sandberg.

The reason Sheryl starts out the book with her grandmother is not only did her grandmother go to college in the 1940’s, but to also illustrate that not much has changed for women since then. The things that have changed are due to women standing up for themselves and letting their voices be heard. We have more choices in life. We get more options for picking our careers, but we still get paid less than men. Men are still preferred for most high paying jobs or jobs with power such as lawyers, doctors, and government officials. This will not stop until we all make the conscious decision to treat everyone equally and end gender stereotyping.

Overall, it was an insightful book filled with research and experiences – good and bad. It’ll be a good reference book one day for the future generations to look back to for life in the early 21st Century.

The Fault in Our Stars Book Review

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I started reading this book while on a flight from Orlando to Chicago before the July 4th weekend. I got half way through the book in the 2 hour flight. Honestly, I was distraught that I had to wait days in order to finish the book; however, I had an adventure to participate in a city I’ve never been in.

I finished the book while on the flight back home from Chicago to Orlando. It took everything I had to keep the tears from being abundant and noticeable to the passengers next to me, both of whom were men.

This is quite possibly the best love story I have ever read. Two ill teens coming together, bonding over a mutual friend, and apparently an amazing and fake (fake as in does not exist in our real world) novel, An Imperial Affliction, that they both loved and managed to travel to Europe just to meet the author, Peter Van Houten. I wish I could read this amazing fictional book just to know the obsession that Hazel, the main character, has with it. Plus, how does this fictional book end with no ending? That bothers me greatly.

The story is beautifully written and inspiring. There’s so many amazing quotes and life lessons to be learned throughout this one book that only took about six hours in total to read.

Upon goggling this book, I am thrilled to see so much fan art and retail sales via t-shirts, magnets, upon other things and trinkets. Some of my favorite fan art will be on this post. I will give all the credit to the artists and designers along with a link to their webpage that is embedded onto their works of art:

http://amy-liu.deviantart.com/

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http://maskedzone.deviantart.com/

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http://shadowfax913.deviantart.com/

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http://loorae.deviantart.com/

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http://tylermeows.deviantart.com/

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My Bloody Life

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This book showed me a world I have never ever been a part of. It almost seemed like a horrid fantasy land, like Edgar Allen Poe’s vision of Oz, but it is not. It is a real place in the United States. It is a city known as Chicago.

Gangs are dangerous in multiple ways and that is the main message of the book. It takes you on a journey from Reymundo’s childhood all the way through his teenage years. The book is captivating, in depth, vivid, and shocking. It is difficult to put down due to the fast pace spiral Reymundo goes down – his own personal rabbit hole. He just keeps falling deeper and deeper going through the levels of gang involvement, decrease time in school, and his increased use of drugs and violence for different purposes and reasons.

Overall, this is an amazing book. The only other book that has exposed me to a world I have never known before and found this captivating was The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

I am looking forward to reading the squeal to this book, Once A King, Always A King.