A Book About a Problem Facing Society Today

I tried to narrow this down to one problem. But I couldn’t. I simply couldn’t. Our society has one too many issues. And these books do a good job of sparking a discussion.

RACE RELATIONS
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

What can I say about this book that hasn’t been said before? This is an incredibly powerful book. My top read this year. No doubt about it. The hype is legit with this one.

Starr is an African-American teen from “the ghetto” attending a predominantly white private school. One night, her best friend is murdered by a cop right before her eyes. What ensues, is heartbreakingly real and poignant.

This book is real. Cannot stress that enough. I cried, I laughed, I was angered, I reminisced and I cried again. Look, I grew up in the hood. And I felt this novel perfectly encapsulated that part of my life.

All I know, is that if I were to fall victim to a crime today, my name and reputation would probably be dragged through the mud because I lived in the projects and may therefore have “possible gang affiliations”. Despite the fact that I live in the suburbs, graduated from a decent university and have a steady job. But in today’s America, those details get lost as soon as someone’s skin color is seen.  

My review of The Autobiography of Malcolm X


SEXUAL ASSAULT

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer


A look at the prevalent number of alleged campus rapes/sexual assaults in Missoula, Montana by college athletes. The book presents interviews with the victims and the accused and their parents, friends, etc. It is an in-depth look at certain cases, some that made headlines. 

Wow wow wow. A myriad of emotions. I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by Mozhan Marno and every morning I was upset. I’ve always been on the “believe the victim” side (I’ve known people who were roofied, sexually assaulted and raped). So to listen to these young women in the book go through what they did in detail. It was a lot. My blood boiled. And it scared the shit out of me. At the end of the day though, it didn’t really surprise me. That’s the heartbreaking part. That I knew justice wouldn’t be served in these cases. In one instance, it actually is. It shocked me and I cheered and cried. Why? This shouldn’t be something out of the norm. But, it is. 

The way the prosecutors and detectives went out of their way to help the accused football players makes me see red. Seriously Kirsten Pabst?! She was in charge of one of the cases but refused to file charges. She then resigned, her boss decided to file charges, so she joined the guy’s defense team! I mean, what kind of bullshit is that?! 

And the trials themselves! Good Lord! You confess to rape and still deserve a lenient sentence because you’re a good person? The fuck?! NO! Raping “your little sister” proves otherwise! “I have suffered enough and have a bright future”. Excuse me?! You’re the one that raped someone and have caused years of emotional damage. Do not play victim when YOU have committed a crime. 

Reason #37293629 why I don’t trust the justice system. I am a woman and if I were the victim of sexual assault I wouldn’t get Oliva Benson or Eliot Stabler. I’d get some asshole that would blame me for falling asleep in a friend’s house in the first place. How dare I expect people to act like decent human beings? Haha, silly me. 



SCHOOL VIOLENCE

Columbine by Dave Cullen

An in-depth look at the school shooting that rocked the United States. This book is written by one of the many journalists that initially covered the massacre. My one pet peeve: the writing format. Bounced back between something that happened pre-massacre to one of the survivors. It seemed a bit unstructured to me.

I remember life before Columbine. After? Big changes. My sister was in high school and my mom worried about her constantly. I went from having regular earthquake/fire drills in school to active shooter/lockdown drills. Although to be completely transparent, my elementary school was in a rough neighborhood and we had drive-by drills. Um, yeah. 

Look, I don’t know what the root of these incidents is. Gun control? Mental health? Bullying? I honestly, have no clue. One of the Columbine killers was a psychopath, the other was severely depressed. So again, I don’t know. I do know that whatever is driving this phenomenon has gone on too long. 

I thought after Sandy Hook some kind of change would occur. Those babies were slaughtered. Yet, nothing happened. Sending your kids to school shouldn’t be a daunting task. 

Here’s a loose list of mass shootings that have happened in the last 20 years. Full disclosure: my alma mater is on the list. (Sort of). IV ❤ 

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

Prompt: a book about a problem facing society today

Challenge Update: 44/50

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World Mental Health Day: Pick Me Up Playlist Tag

This is such a great tag! World Mental Health Day was on October 10th this year and I completely missed it. So thank you Sophia Ismaa for tagging me in this! You know what’s funny? I actually made a playlist of songs that make me happy after a conversation I had with my therapist years ago. These songs are on that playlist. And I do listen to it every once in a while when I start to feel down. 

RULES:

  • Link back to ‘Pick Me Up Playlist’ creator – Laura Spoonie
  • Tag the blogger who nominated you
  • Mention how music helps your Mental Health
  • List 10 songs that you would consider to be a part of your ‘Pick Me Up Playlist’ (optional: mention a little bit why each song is on your list)
  • Tag 10 other bloggers to join in with the ‘Pick Me Up Playlist’ Challenge

1. Wannabe – Spice Girls

It’s the Spice Girls! I still want to be Baby Spice lol. Enough said. 

2. El Chico del Apartamento 512 – Selena

My Queen ❤ !!!! This song is light and fluffy. In a nutshell: it’s about a girl that has a crush on her neighbor; the guy in apartment 512. 

3. Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi

“You live for the fight when it’s all you got”

4. 99 Red Balloons – Nena

First heard it on Gilmore Girls. But it reminds me of college. I remember one of my college roommates putting it on a party playlist at some point. 

5. Love on Top – Beyoncé

This song makes me ridiculously happy. The first time I heard it was when Beyoncé sang it at the MTV awards and revealed she was pregnant. That joy is radiating off of her and it’s contagious 😀

6. La Tortura – Shakira Ft. Alejandro Sanz

My other queen ❤ !! I still have the cassette tapes of her early music lol. It’s nostalgia coupled with great music. 

7. Young Folks – Peter Bjorn and John

It’s the whistling. As soon as I hear it, it puts me in a good mood. 

8. Do You Love Me – The Contours

I love dancing to this song when no one is watching. Also, it’s The Contours. No real explanation needed.

9. Paradise – George Ezra

It’s an upbeat, lovey-dovey song. 

10. Me Vale – Maná

OH MY GOD this song!! It’s an anthem!! Whenever people like to voice their unasked for opinion regarding my life choices, I listen to this song. Instant mood booster. In a nutshell: it’s a guy talking about how he doesn’t give a damn about what people think of him and calling them out on it. Loose translation of one of the lyrics: “Instead of criticizing my life and pointing out what’s wrong with it, you should focus on yourself.” Yes!!! 

I TAG: 

Brianna the Bookworm

The Book Raven

Jasmine’s Reading

The Quirky Book Nerd

*No pressure on anyone to participate*

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 🙂

Nancy Drew (#52): The Secret of the Forgotten City by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1975)

Nancy’s friends have a surprise for her. They are all going to the Nevada desert to take part in an archaeological dig. The area is also believed to have hidden gold nearby and Nancy endeavors to find it.

This wouldn’t be a Nancy Drew story if another mystery didn’t fall into Nancy’s lap. A Native American woman has 6 ancient tablets that wind up being stolen. She was initially hoping Nancy would help her decipher the petroglyphs. Now, Nancy has to find the thief first.

A few books back, I made the observation that Nancy messed up a dig. Which is true. She dug up old tribal grounds to solve a mystery. And she went about it completely wrong. But this book addressed the issues I had then. This dig is sponsored by a university, so all of the students are taught the proper way to proceed. Hallelujah! Way to right a wrong. 

Speaking of wrongs, there were a number in this story. The biggest one being when at one point Nancy finds a human bone. The crew takes turns unearthing it, string the uncovered skeleton and then proceed to play and joke around with it. Sigh. Do you know how disrespectful that is? What they did is despicable and shows a lack of consideration towards the tribe. No respectable archeaologist would ever allow this to happen. Because it’s wrong on so many levels. 

Anyway, the story is fairly entertaining. Nancy and Ned kiss. A lot. Well, a lot for one of these stories. Nancy and crew find gold and an underwater river in the desert. Oh, and all of a sudden Nancy knows spanish? And, can differentiate between various dialects. Yeah, okay Jan.
 
Look, I know these are kids books so I shouldn’t take them too seriously. But honestly, I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving this specific book to my 8 year old niece. We’re teaching her to be respectful. And this book doesn’t send that message. Blegh. 

There were parts I really did like about this book. But I simply couldn’t get past all of the problematic aspects. Which is just too bad. It had the markings of a favorite. 

One Day in December by Josie Silver

I absolutely adored this book!!

Description: 

A love story about what happens after you meet, or rather, don’t meet the one.


Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

   – Goodreads


Genre(s): Romance, Fiction, Women’s Literature
Publisher: Broadway Books
Expected Publication: October.16.2018

*Thank you First to Read for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

My Review:
Laurie and Sarah are best friends. They met on their first day of uni and have been inseparable ever since. Rooming together for about 5 years. When Laurie has a moment with a strange man at a bus stop whilst she’s on the bus, she quickly tells Sarah she has found her dream man. And for a year, the two spend time looking around for “bus boy”. 

Of course, when Laurie finds him, it had to be her best friend’s new boyfriend. The one she is quickly falling in love with. Heartbroken by the turn of events, she hides the truth from Sarah and at her friend’s insistence, strikes up a friendship with Jack, bus boy.

Yes, you may think where this story is going to go. And you wouldn’t be completely wrong. But, the way the story is woven, will keep you firmly rooted to the book with a big smile on your face. 

When the book begins, Laurie and Sarah are sharing a flat together. They are in their early-20’s, living in London and trying to start their careers. Sarah, the more outgoing of the two is having a bit more success. While Laurie, the quieter one, is floundering a bit. They complement each other though. And to see their friendship, you realize how realistic it is. Because even though they are thick as thieves, they do have one big argument that kind of derails their friendship. But they’ve been friends for too long and nothing is really going to way of that. 

The story itself is told in alternating viewpoints between Laurie and Jack. The main one being Laurie’s, beginning with that day in December when she and Jack first lay eyes on each other in 2008. From there, the story progresses, encapsulating almost a decade of these characters lives in one book. And this format works. It doesn’t make the story long or too tedious. It’s not a month by month account. Rather, snippets every few months of what the characters have been going through at the moment. 

I should mention that because the story takes place primarily in London, the language reflects it. A lot of British expressionisms are used. Some went over my head, but that didn’t bother me. I’m pretty sure I got the gist of them. Besides, the writing is top-notch. 

Final Thoughts:
I loved loved loved this book! I honestly cannot wait for this book to be published so I can buy a copy for my best friend. It actually sparked a discussion between us as I told her about this read. What would we want the other to do if we were in a similar situation. Quite enlightening. Now, I have not stepped into my local indie bookstore all year and I am willing to pay full price for this one. That’s how enthralled I am with this book!

This book is perfect for hopeless romantics. Or for those in need of a good romance story. Cannot recommend this book enough. Seriously. ❤

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Me Llamo Rigoberta Menchú y así me Nació la Conciencia (I, Rigoberta Menchú) as told to Elizabeth Burgos

In honor of Columbus Day I present you with this book. It is an autobiographical account of Rigoberta Menchú, a Guatemalan Quiché Mayan and Nobel Peace Prize winner. 

Rigoberta and my mom actually grew up around the same time period. I’ve heard my mom’s horror stories of life in Guatemala at the time many times before. I always thought they were exaggerated because my mom has a flair for embellishing stories. But um, no, turns out she wasn’t being dramatic. The government really did do all of those awful things. And to think my mom was a child and witnessed all those atrocities. That brings tears to my eyes. No one should live in a state of fear.

Menchú narrated her story when she was about 24 years old to anthropologist Elizabeth Burgos. I actually didn’t know much about Rigoberta Menchú going into this book. I knew there was some kind of controversy surrounding her but to what it extended to I had no clue. Honestly, I still don’t. It’s her story. Every memoir has to be taken with a grain of salt. 

Menchú talks about her childhood. How she was brought up in a traditional Quiché way, tinged with Christianity. She discusses how the Church made its way into her village and how the elders in the community dealt with it. She also documents how she was made to feel worthless by the treatment of non-American Indians. Her revolutionary ideals are also discussed as she recounts how the military robbed, raped, and pillaged the Mayan communities. It’s brutally heartbreaking. 

There is also a lot of information on Quiché traditions and customs. I was surprised by how detailed she was in certain aspects. Because she makes it known early on, that everyone in her community is brought up to keep those traditions/customs secret. But, she explains that non-American Indians have been taking advantage of American Indians by spreading lies about them. So to prove that they actually have a rich way of life, she is divulging secrets that provide insight into how the communities function. It’s also why Rigoberta chose to learn spanish. How else would she be able to fight her oppressor and attempt to right the wrongs committed against her and her people? 

Some of her stories sounded like ones I’ve heard my mom tell me before. My mom once told me that sometimes when there was no food to eat, my grandma would make tortillas with chile. That was her meal for the day. And lo and behold, Rigoberta recounts a similar story. Reminded me of my privilege and made me incredibly appreciative of my mother. 

Now, there is a lot of repetition in the book. A lot. Also, Rigoberta had only been speaking spanish for 3 years at the time she narrated her story, which actually made it easier for me to read. All in all, it’s given me a new perspective on my identity. There’s a sense of responsibility now weighing on my shoulders…
 

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Prompt: a book tied to your ancestry [I’m Guatemalan 🙂 ]

Challenge Update: 43/50

Nancy Drew (#51): Mystery of the Glowing Eye by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1974)

When Nancy discovers that Ned has been kidnapped, she takes it upon herself to try to find him.

I absolutely loathed this book. It starts off with Nancy being jealous of Marty King, a young, new lawyer working for her father. Nancy is upset that Marty King is taking over a mystery her father had initially mentioned to her. Then it kind of spirals out into the science fiction realm.

A self-piloted helicopter lands on Nancy’s front lawn. In the cockpit, she finds a note scrawled by Ned, warning her against Cyclops. Nobody knows whose helicopter it is or why it landed there. But Burt and Dave quickly inform Nancy that Ned has been missing for a couple of days. 

Nancy, Bess and George drive to Emerson College where they discover that another student is also missing. A grad student working in the same lab as Ned. As the case unfolds, Nancy fears that Ned has been kidnapped by the grad student and ties the case to a mysterious glowing eye that appears in a museum. 

Ned is MIA for 99% of the book. Dropping breadcrumbs for Nancy and friends. But they seem to be a step behind each time they get close to finding him. Then the glowing eye plotline is introduced. Okay, I have no idea how that glowing eye worked or what the point of it was. It made zero sense. And I still don’t know if the museum’s receptionist was involved or not? She takes herself out of the narrative; whereabouts unknown. 

And then the ending. Good Lord. So after everything that Nancy does to find Ned, he rescues himself. Then acts like nothing really happened. He was gone for days. Days! With some lunatic pointing a gun at him and trying to steal his invention. Oh yeah, Ned invented something. What, you ask? To quote Ned, 

“My invention is a new way for a scientist to produce laser light so that even a small source of energy will do great feats. It’s done by converting all of the energy into light.”

Boy, I have no clue what you just said. 

Oh, and if you’re wondering about Marty King, well I’m pretty sure she’s never appearing again. You see, Mr. Drew asked her to resign. Apparently she proposed to him and admitted to being jealous of Nancy and her sleuthing adventures. Ha! Yes. It was a mutual jealousy-fest. 

Ugh. This book was a mess. I’m done. The 70’s were obviously not good to Nancy. I won’t even get into how hideous the cover is. I am so done. 

Diarios de Motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries)  – Ernesto “Che” Guevara

This is Guevara’s travel journal detailing his trip through Latin America with his friend Alberto. 

It took me forever to finish this book. Months, actually. For some reason I couldn’t really get into it for a while. The spanish was… different? Or, not different but… simply not what I’m used to. Ugh. It’s hard to explain. Especially when I don’t even know what I’m trying to say haha.

The narrative is fascinating though. As a doctor in Argentina, Ernesto one day begins to wonder about the healthcare practices in other Latin American countries. Specifically those related to people with leprosy. So he and his friend Alberto begin their journey by motorcycle. 

The two men visit many countries. Half the time they’re penniless but they manage to survive on the generosity of their hosts. At one point, they have to leave their motorcycles behind and well this turns out to be a whole new adventure. They hitchhike, ride buses, stowaway on a boat, etc.

Guevara’s insights are also illuminating. His mission was healthcare and he does write about it. Basically, healthcare could be better everywhere. And he of course touches upon the human condition. 

This account was written when Che was in his early 20’s. He actually turns 21 in the latter part of the book. Knowing what I know of Che and his work in the future, it’s captivating to see those ideals that have come to define him, already blooming. 

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow by Alyssa Palombo


This book pays homage to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow while still managing to flesh out a somewhat new story. It adds touches of magic, of love, of friendship. It goes beyond a mere ghost story. Ah, I loved this book.

* Thank you to Alyssa Palombo and St. Martin’s Press for providing an ARC of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own *



Published By: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: October.2.2018

Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Retellings

The mysterious and haunted world of Sleepy Hollow is palpable in this book. You can feel the hazy fog surrounding you, as you read Katrina’s version of events. 

In Wasington Irving’s original story, Katrina Van Tassel is described as a somewhat shallow coquette. But as this book is told by Katrina herself, we get another side to the infamous legend. And if you’re familiar with the original tale, then you’ll recognize many of the characters and elements that appear. 

At its core, the story is about love. Katrina and Ichabod are passionately in love with one another (providing the reader with a slew of steamy scenes). But he is a schoolteacher, dependent on the generosity of his pupil’s families. Katrina, is sole heiress to the successful Van Tassel farm. On All Hallows Eve, Ichabod asks for Katrina’s hand in marriage but is denied by her father. That night, Ichabod disappears and is presumed by the townspeople to have been taken by the headless horseman.

The story is also about magic and female friendship. Katrina’s best friend is Charlotte, a healer and witch. Because of Brom Van Brunts accusations of witchcraft, Charlotte is looked upon with fear. But Katrina defends her, and sticks by her. And through her, discovers her own gift of Sight. 

This is also a story of loss. When Ichabod disappears, Katrina is heartbroken. She spends a couple of years trying to figure out whether he abandoned her or if something more sinister befell him. If you assume it’s the latter, you’d be right. This is Sleepy Hollow, after all.  

This is an incredibly entertaining story. Katrina is a young, modern woman, stuck in post-Revolutionary War America. She is an avid reader, has her own political ideas, and a truly independent spirit. A part of me feels a lot of sympathy for this girl though. My heart broke when she finally discovered Ichabod Crane’s fate.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I hadn’t read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in so long that after I finished this read, I went and listened to the audiobook version. And wow. The original is good. But I was surprised by how faithful The Spellbook was to it. From Ichabod’s physical description, to Gunpowder veering off the main road by the church. I am truly awed by what Alyssa Palombo accomplished. 

Book Haul #3: September Edition

It’s been a while since my last book haul. But I’ve donated a bunch of books over the past few weeks so I rewarded myself by replacing them. Haha, this is a vicious cycle. In my defense, 11 of these books were free. My library has a bookshelf full of free books, and you can take as many as you want. The day I went, their selection was so good. I saw a guy leave with a basket full of books. A basket. The library: fueling our bookish habits. #noregrets

BOOKS ON THE LEFT:

Ada by Vladimir Nabokov

The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles 

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

BOOKS IN THE MIDDLE:

The Martian by Andy Weir

  • Technically bought this for my brother. I was surprised when he told me he didn’t own it. So of course I had to buy it when I saw it. I’m going to have to borrow it at some point though…

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

  • The only book in this haul that I’ve actually read. I enjoyed it enough, that as soon as I saw it at my library’s bookstore I knew I needed my own copy.  

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks

Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

  • My favorite Nicholas Sparks movie!! After reading Safe Haven, I’m not as nervous to read this…

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

BOOKS ON THE RIGHT:

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Contact by Carl Sagan

  • Gifted it to my brother. It’s one of his favorite movies. 

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

  • Another book I gifted to my brother. And another I will have to borrow from him haha

So apparently I now have a Nicholas Sparks collection going on. My bff’s influence 😉 And my number of unread owned books increased. Sigh. 2019 reading goal: read the books I own that I haven’t gotten to. 

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

Nancy Drew (#50): The Double Jinx Mystery by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1973)

This mystery is a little strange. (When aren’t they)? A stuffed bird is left on Nancy’s doorstep which is only the first in many weird incidents. Nancy believes it is connected to the case she is helping her father with. High-rise apartments are set to be built on private property which the owner is refusing to sell/give up. Mr. Thurston doesn’t want to sell his property because of a zoo and bird sanctuary he has built on it. It is Mr. Drew’s job to stop the city council from forcing Mr. Thurston off his land. And with help from Nancy, he succeeds.

Okay, first things first. The bird. It’s a wryneck bird (like the one on the cover) and apparently superstitious people believe the bird is a jinx. That it’s a sign of ill-omen. Nancy doesn’t know this, but Hannah Gruen tells her. Which then makes Nancy panic and think there’s a bomb inside??

Nancy claims multiple times that she’s not superstitious. She even goes so far as to convince Mrs. Thurston to stop believing in them. Yet, her first conclusion upon seeing the bird is: bomb. At this point, she hadn’t even started working on the case! Then the cops show up and inform her there is no bomb and all is well. How unrealistic is that? No warning? No telling her to stop calling the cops when there is no perceived threat? I call B.S.

And then, oh my goodness. Later on in the book Nancy, Bess and George invite a group of kids to see the zoo and bird sanctuary. So they all pile into her car. There are 9 kids. 9!! Plus Nancy, Bess and George. That’s 12 people in 1 car! Of course, a cop pulls her over on the way. But he lets her go!! He tells her that her car is only designed for 6 people, but since she’s near her destination she can go. As long as the situation is remedied on the way back. 

Again, I call some MAJOR BS!! Speaking from experience, I know for a fact that would not fly. Must be nice to be a titian haired, blue-eyed teenager with a prominent attorney as her father. Or it could be a 70’s thing. Who knows. When did child car seats become law anyway? *googles car seat history* 1971! 

The mystery itself is super straightforward. The bad guys are preying on people’s superstitious beliefs to get what they want. Nancy and Ned fall sick with ornithosis (some kind of bird disease). The big, evil, high-rise corporation is taken down. It’s all in a week’s work. 

Overall, it was a decent story. It’s wild how times have changed though. 

BTW: what is up with these horrible covers lately?