Book Review

A Song Below Water |Book Review

Image Copyright: marinainw0nderland

(Disclosure: There are things that I don’t know and through literature I seek answers. Please educate me on things that I don’t know. As always I try to be inclusive. kind and respectful in my reviews. xoxo, Rina )

Synopsis:

Legacies meets Nic Stone’s Dear Martin in Bethany C. Morrow’s debut YA, A Song Below Water, about two best friends discovering their magical identities against the challenges of today’s racism and sexism.

Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Nevermind she’s also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.

But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she’s also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore—soon Portland won’t be either. (Goodreads)

REVIEW

This was a surprising read. This was marketed to me as a mermaid tale. This intrigued me a lot because I had never before read a book that revolved around mermaids.

Pros:

This book had social commentary that I feel is relevant in today’s times. The book revolved around black characters and police violence. I feel like police brutality in the black community has taken a rise, and representation of it is important in literature to begin the conversation of how we can change this. This novel acknowledged the right to protest and showed it in a way of being able to use your voice in order to demand social change. I liked that this novel also showed the use of media, such as Youtube as a means to educate the public on social issues. I valued that this novel portrayed a true representation of what a protest looks like, the precautions one takes when protesting and the risk that one puts themselves in when they are protesting.

I enjoyed that this book included people of color representation and it was written by a black author.

While the book dealt with difficult social issues and had mythical creatures in it, it also displayed teenage love and the innocent feelings of crushes. While it did have a serious undertone to the story, the teenagers still acted like teenagers with magical powers. While the reader is trying to figure out who and what our main characters are, the main character Tavia and Effie are on the same journey as the reader trying to learn about their abilities and what it means to have those abilities in there life.

Favorite Quote:

” What is the status of that? Are we avoiding labels or is he officially your boyfriend?”

“Okay, what makes it official?”

“If he asks you to go steady. Doy.”

“I just don’t think guys literally ask that anymore.” (P.173, Bethany C. Marrow )

Cons:

However, the plotline of having police conflict within the black community was a promising touch, because I thought this was a very important point that provided space to educate the reader. I feel like this giant event was lost among the storyline. This story seemed to not contain a plot other than two girls having to protect one another.

There were different characters that were introduced without any explanation of their mythical origin besides their mythical names. Throughout the entire book, the main characters spent running away from an invisible evil force without really knowing why. Tavia and Effie also spend the greater part of the book not knowing their true identities and the reader spends a lot of the time being confused who is who.

There is a society of mythical creatures that are created to protect the girls called eolokes but, their origin is not explained. It is hard to understand their place in society. All the supernatural creatures lacked a back story. The creatures were all new to me, they were ones that I have never read about before. Which at first gave me excitement for a new fantasy world but the story fell short due to lack of back story and too much trying to be fit in such a short novel.

The family lines were very confusing, as the reader early on find out that the “sisters” are not related by blood. It was hard to identify which sister belonged to which family because it seemed that there was no strong connection between the family. When the families got together it felt like it was one large family, until the reader was reminded that the girls had lived previously in different homes. I personally struggled with making strong connections to their family lines. It did seem that the book tried to make the two families an important aspect of the story but it lacked in creating the connections that helped the reader be able to easily identify which family went to which girl and what roles the family played.

Overall

This book was not exactly my cup of tea. I enjoyed parts of it as I read. There was not much in this book that was very memorable to me and I do not see myself revisiting this book in the future. While I enjoyed the “people of color” representation and I thought that the book gave an interesting and important overview of protesting. The fantasy elements were not for me. I felt that the book lacked a lot of back story, while it introduced numerous amounts of supernatural creatures. I think that just by adding back story and having the book be slightly longer the story could have had a much more lasting effect on me. This siren tale was just not for me.

XOXO,

Rina

Book Review

I Was Here By Gayle Forman|Book Review

I was here
Image belonging to Goodreads, Gayle Forman and Viking Juvenile

Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss. (Goodreads)



Review: 

starsstarsstarsstars/5 :(TRIGGER WARNING: DOES CONTAIN CONTENT ON SUICIDE)

I am a huge fan of Gayle Forman. I loved her book “If I Stay”, so I did have rather high expectations for this book. To be honest going into this book I really had no idea what it was about. I have been reading so much Stephen King for my writing class that I felt I need an easier read to follow and just lose myself in the story.

This book did it. I really enjoyed all of it. It is a dark book, if suicide is a trigger for you I recommend you read it with caution. With that said let discuss the book. The story follows our protagonist Cody, who is dealing with the grief of her best friends Meg’s death. When Meg’s parents gift Cody, Meg’s old computer Cody stumbles on files that may hint that Meg wasn’t the only person involved in her death. Add in a attractive rockstar and Cody hits the road to figure out what really happened to her best friend.

Like I said this book was very enjoyable. There was literally almost every element you can think to want in a book. It started of with being a mystery, grief stricken book, mixed with romance and a lot of family dynamic. It is so easy to fall in love with the characters. Cody is so relatable as the angry, grief stricken friend who just wants answers. Meg’s parents are just the perfect touch of creating a warm family dynamic in this book and also showing the contrast of Cody’s own dysfunctional family. What I really liked about the book is how open the characters and the conversations were between them. They faced challenges and at first our main characters Cody and Ben, a boy who is tied to both  Cody and Meg have difficulty of putting down their defense but as the story goes on you witness a strong friendship unfold as the characters are forced to really be there for one another as they are solving the mystery of Meg’s death.

I really enjoy Gayle Forman’s writing. She has a way of really taking the reader into the story. I felt like was on the trip along with Ben and Cody.  When I was done, with the book it felt like my friends had gone home after a day of hanging out. It was almost as if something was missing. I really enjoy books that make you think of them after you are done reading them. I love Gayle Forman and this book was no disappointment. If you want a quick read that will captivate your attention and make you wish the story never ended try this book out.

With Warm Cups of Tea and Just a Few More Chapters,

Rina


 

#booktube · 0 by 2020 · Book Discussion · Book Review

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman|Book Review

Synopsis:orange is the new black With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before.

But that past has caught up with her.

Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424 — one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system.

From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance.

Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.

Review (Spoiler-Free):

This book was extremely enjoyable for a non-fiction. It was fast paced and it really kept you on your toes. As a reader I really got invested in the lives of the characters and felt along with them.

I sympathized with Piper’s story and it got me thinking a lot about the offenders in our prison systems, the types of conditions different prisons have and how tax dollars affect the prison system.

It also didn’t hit me that Martha Stewart served time. This was one of the topics of the book as the prisoners hoped that Martha would have come to Danbury.

There was LGBTQA+ representation in this book as it did follow a relationship of Nora and Piper, when Piper was younger. However, there was very limited interaction between Nora and Piper which was different from the Netflix show. I wanted to see more of the relationship between Piper and Nora. This was for many reasons, but mainly because the relationship between Nora and Piper in the Netflix show put a lot of strain on the relationship with Larry, who is Piper’s fiancee. And I had to remind myself that the Netflix show is more fictional and has difference then the non-fictional narrative.

Going into this book, do not expect it to be like the Netflix show. It is a lot more fact based and about Piper’s personal experience  as it was written from a collection of letters that she sent to her family and friends. Overall, it was very enjoyable and I gave 4/5 stars. I would really recommend this book if you are a fan of the Netflix show or what to give a go of non-fiction I think this is a really good place to start because this book will suck you in.

Reflection (Contains Spoilers):

I picked this book up after I watched the first season of the Netflix series and was hooked. I first started reading this as an audiobook, but in reality I am not a huge fan of audiobooks. I ended up picking the book half way through and reading an e-book version of it, although I owned the physical copy as well. Marina, why do you need 3 copies of the same book, if only I knew.

This book was very addictive, it goes through the Piper’s journey through the law and prison system after being accused as an accomplice that took large sums of money into the U.S. for an ex-girlfriend that was part of the drug cartel.

Some of the interesting things I found in this book was that the book was not heavily concentrated between the relationship of Piper and her ex Nora as the Netflix series does. Looking back, the show seems to be drawn out because I had to remind myself that Piper only did 10 months in prison before she was let go.

It was shocking to me how the woman of the prisons came together and became a family to Piper. I was also shocked to see how different Danbury was from the high security prison that Piper was at.

I wasn’t expecting that Nora had a sister. This surprised me because I didn’t understand why Piper had to carry the money back to the U.S. and stayed innocent. While Nora’s sister who is already in the drug trade would have been able to travel with the money. I also enjoyed getting to know Piper’s fiancé/husband and watching how supportive their relationship was.

This book was an excellent piece of nonfiction that a reader could tell heart and soul was put into it. I loved this book, please don’t be hesitant to check it out.

Happy Reading (OneLoveAlways),

Rina