Sunday, May 26, 2013

My Top Nine Of All Time

In response to and in celebration of Kate's Book Club's birthday and subsequent giveaway, I would like to do a listing of my top nine favorite books of all time. And yes...I am aware that most people did video responses to this YouTube Book Tag however, I prefer to use my blog to cover my top picks. In no particular order, here they are:

1. Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind by Suzanne Fisher Staples: I remember having to read this book in fifth grade and being so transfixed by Shabanu's story. Shabanu is a Pakistani girl of about 12 or 13 who lives in the Cholistan desert with her nomadic family. Growing up tending her herd of camels she always knew she'd marry young, but as fate would have it, her betrothal comes much earlier than she expects. Shabanu is married to a man that is twice her age after a chaotic event takes place when her family visits her actual betrothed. Staple's book has the type of storyline that sticks with you well beyond you finishing the book. Even though I read the other two books in this series, I would still recommend this book out of the whole series as the one that is most riveting.

2. Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling: J.K. Rowling once said that, "no matter how old you get, the world of Harry Potter will always be waiting for you when you return." As corny as this sounds, it is the truth. I frequently reread this series from beginning to end and always get emotional even though I know what's going to happen. Regardless, my emotions always slip away from me when I read the 6th book in the series. I love the back story that Rowling gives to why Lord Voldemort is the way he is and why their is a rivalry between Harry's father and Professor Snape. If I had to only pick one book from the series as my all-time favorite, this would definitely be the one. I never get tired of this book.

3. Oh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss: The thing you'll quickly learn about me is that I'm a tad sentimental and a sucker for quotable things or things that give some insight into the human experience. I love this book by Dr. Seuss because it makes me feel like I'm not alone in my journey to that great beyond we all call adulthood. This book is usually something that you give to a person who's graduating or just moving up another level in their life. I love the simplicity in the Dr.'s rhymes and the overall messages in the books. The artwork in this book also lends itself to the unique wackiness that can only be found in a Dr. Seuss book. This book is good for people of all ages and something that never goes out of style.

4. Friday Nights At Honeybee's by Andrea Smith I picked this book  up on a whim in undergrad at my
university's bookstore and fell deeply in love with it on first reading it. The book follows two women as they migrate individually to Harlem in the 1960's until the point where they meet at Honeybee's. The two women, Viola and Forestine are both running from their own personal demons. Viola is a Southern Baptist preacher's daughter who gets ran out of her small town by her father and the congregation for what is perceived to be less than sanctified behavior on her part and Forestine is a woman who's only dream is to become a singer. In Smith's story, the recreation of Harlem in the 1960's is beyond believable and the storyline is so gripping that I couldn't put it down until I was completely finished.  I'd recommend to all lovers of Harlem and jazz.

5. The Blacker The Berry by Wallace Thurman: We've all been born in skin that we don't always feel comfortable in. To make matters worse, we may often get told, "oh you would be pretty if..." or "honey, why don't you do x, y, and z to yourself. You would be soooooo beautiful if you did" by some brainwashed individual who has been sold a one dimensional view on what beauty is. In the case of Emma Lou, the hue of her skin is what keeps her from being considered beautiful by others in her family and race. Born as a dark-skinned African-American in the Harlem Renaissance period, Emma Lou is frequently badgered to modify her skin tone to fit in with society's concept of what beauty is. I personally love this book because of the raw emotions that Thurman lets spill from its pages. Growing up as a dark-skinned girl myself, I can understand the feelings that Emma Lou has when it comes to life and her struggle to come of age in an era when blacks were not necessarily as accepting of their skin tone as they should have been. Yet, don't be detoured from reading this novel if your not that into African-American history, it's a good read for anybody who enjoys coming of age stories as well.

6. Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree: This particular book falls under my top picks not only because it is a good book, but because of the way it came to me. Tyree's book was a staple read amongst middle school girls when I was in 6th grade. Flyy Girl was secretly passed back and fourth between us girls like it was the ultimate study guide and each girl in turn would read it and pass it on to the next girl in line. As an adult, this book doesn't hold nearly as much magic for me, but I still keep it in my list of faves because it reminds me of a much more innocent time. The book itself isn't exactly child friendly because of certain scenes where the main character partakes in adult "cardio" exercises yet, the novel itself is about the main character, Tracy's coming of age and learning who she is on her own terms. While I did read this book at a fairly young age, I would caution other young girls to do so under the pretense of being an observer of Tracy's story opposed to using it as an all out manual for living life in the fast lane.

7. The Spook Who Sat By The Door by Sam Greenlee: Action, racial commentary, fight scenes, wise cracking, and an urban setting are all a part of Greenlee's masterpiece. I read this book this semester for my seminar on African-American Fiction after growing up hearing my parents discuss it frequently. Greenlee's novel has a tumultuous back story. Turned down by American publishers and eventually having to go to Britain to publish this book due to its graphic and raw nature, Greenlee's book was lost in the shuffle of great African-American fiction. This book is a fictional account of Dan Freeman, an ex-CIA African-American operative as he fights to exact guerrilla warfare on his oppressors. The novel takes place in the 60's and follows Freeman as he seeks to educate a gang of urban teens on having love for themselves and their race. It was eventually turned into a movie and then, banned by the government upon its release. It has only recently been reintroduced into print and DVD. This novel is not for the faint of heart or for those who are easily offended by racial slurs. I would recommend it as a serious read or just as a thriller selection for any and everyone.

8. Imaginary Men by

Book Spine Poetry #2

In The Garden Of Beasts

  (in a) Dreamland

A Mad Desire To Dance

 The Host
Along For The Ride
...What (Ever) Happened to Goodbye? 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon 7.0 Wrap-Up

This week has been pure CHAOS!

I knew going into this Read-A-Thon that I would not be able to read a huge amount of books. Yet, I did want to try to accomplish reading at least five books by the end of the challenge. Starting my week off with a bang, I finished The DUFF by Kody Keplinger on Monday and promptly reviewed it. Sadly, this was my only reading accomplishment for the week.

Set to read four more books, my plans were interrupted by life, school, and fate. Deaths in my extended family and friend circle along with an airline screw up that landed me in the middle of nowhere and caused me and my family to scramble to drive hours out of our way caused me to put reading on hold. Add to this the fact that I suffered from the minor hiccup of falling into a reading slump on Wednesday and you can see why I was unable to read as much as I wanted.

Yet, with all the bad events that happened, I did end up being able to tick two major accomplishments off my list. I would like to proudly announce that I now hold a Masters from Carnegie Mellon's Literary and Cultural Studies Program. Also, I have successfully spent a year living alone without a roommate in a city that I had never visited before August of last year....and yes I am aware that I have packaged this blog as a book and movie review website HOWEVER, I am sooo excited about these two things I just had to shout them from the heavens \(^0^)/....even in cyber space
Even though I haven't finished any other books this week, I have started Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This book so far has been overwhelmingly good. I've always enjoyed Adichie's writing style, but this book is just beyond what I expected. The subject content covers everything from childhood love to feminism to issues that immigrants in America face daily. Not to mention the book is a blend of chick lit and serious literature. I seriously can't wait to review this book. I would definitely recommend that anyone who can to get this book you most definitely won't regret this choice.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bout of Books 7.0 Read-A-Thon Progress For Last THREE Days

My reading progress has recently been tapered by two events, one foreseen and one unforeseen.

In a previous post, I stated that I would be graduating this week and that my chances to read would be lessened by the arrival of my family. True to form, this hypothesis came to fruition and I was unable to fully sit down and focus enough to read. Add to this the fact that I fell into a random reading slump and these last couple of days have been the pits.

I first started off Tuesday trying to finish Divorce Islamic Style since I only had about 80 pages to go, but I was unable to do so due to my growing resentment at one of the characters constant berating of others who were not Muslim in each of her chapters. After this, I tried to read The Golem and the Jinni, but couldn't really get in sync with the plot enough to become invested in the book. Finally, I decided to just give up all reading and spend time packing my apartment and picking my family up at the airport. Once all this was done I figured maybe it wasn't really an actual slump I was in, but the choice of books I was reading that was leading me to want to stop reading.

With this realization, I decided to switch up my TBR list for the Read-A-Thon and put aside Divorce Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  instead. Boy! Was this THE best thing that I could've done. I recently had to reread Adichie's Purple Hibiscus for my Global Literature class and was excited to learn that this author was set to release another novel this year.
Islamic Style and The Golem and the Jinni and read Americanah by

Americanah is a book about two individuals, Ifemelu, a Nigerian blogger who has lived in America for thirteen years after immigrating and Obinze, a wealthy Nigerian business man who still lives in Nigeria. As adolescents, Ifemelu and Obinze were sweethearts. Attending secondary school and university together, the two believed that they would one day get married. However, this does not happen and eventually the two lose contact with each other and start separate lives. Set to return home to Nigeria after her hiatus in America, Ifemelu decides to reconnect with Obinze. Unfortunately, he is married now and this is a tad bit problematic. The overall novel follows the two lovers as they fall in love as children and later cross paths as adults.

I'm really enjoying Adichie's book thus far and can't wait to review it. Hopefully, I will finish it by Sunday. Since I fell so far behind in my reading schedule, I think that I will knock a book off my overall Read-A-Thon goal and just aim for finishing four by Sunday.

I hope everybody else is making great strides in their TBR/Read-A-Thon goals. Happy Reading!

TBR List For Read-A-Thon:
1. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
2. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
3. So Long A Letter by Mariama Ba
4. Where'd You Go Bernedette by Maria Semple
5. I've Got Your Number by  Sophie Kinsella*

Overall Progress:
Number of Books I've read Finished: 1
Book Goal :4
Total Number of Pages I've Read Tuesday: 10
Total Number of Pages I've Read Wednesday: 25
Total Number of Pages I've Read Thursday: 89

 *Random Quick Read

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bout of Books 7.0 Read-A-Thon Progress #1

I'm excited to announce that I have finished one book off my list and am waaaay ahead of schedule for my five book reading goal for this week. I put a book review for The DUFF by Kody Keplinger earlier and will be continuing to read and report as the week goes on.


TBR List For Read-A-Thon:

1. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

2. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

3. So Long A Letter by Mariama Ba

4. Where'd You Go Bernedette by Maria Semple

5. Divorce Islamic Style by Amara Lokhous 

Overall Progress:
Number of books I've read today: 1
Total number of books I've read: 1
Books: 5

Book Spine Poetry Challenge (Bout of Books 7.0)

Today marks the ooficial start of Bout of Books' Read-A-Thon! The first Challenge is the Book Spine Poetry contest held by Escape Through The Pages. Here is my first attempt at book spine poetry:

In the land of Invisible Women 
The Duff 
What Is The What 

The Whole Story of Half A Girl 
Ruby Red
(and) WICKED
(...a) desert flower

*words in parentheses were added.

Hope you all enjoyed my novice attempt at poetry (^_^).


The DUFF by Kody Keplinger Book Review

 I gave this book 5 stars.

Kody Keplinger's novel, The DUFF is the type of book you could read at any age and connect to. The main character, Bianca is a tough as nails girl who's heart has been hardened by the pains of love. Adamant about never falling in love again, she chooses to enter into an "enemies with benefits" relationship with Wesley, the notorious womanizer of her high school who has problems of his own. Together the two teenagers work through their problems in the form of..ahem...advanced cardio for the grown and sexy. <spoiler>However,  even with their preconceived rules of "no feelings" being involved, Bianca and Wesley learn the hard way that love can infiltrate your heart when you least expect it no matter how hard you plan.</spoiler>

Keplinger's characters are well developed and likable. Even though Bianca does come off as cynical at times, the reader gets shown that her feelings of anger and frustration are justified. The way that this character antagonizes over being "the duff" a.k.a the designated ugly fat friend, is something that is especially well portrayed by the author and made into a relatable point for anyone who chooses to read this book due to the fact that most people have felt like the dud of their circle of friends at one point of their life or another.

On the flip side, Wesley's character while clearly placed into the cliched role of being resident bad boy is endearing opposed to annoying. Even when he makes Bianca feel ashamed of herself by calling her the duff, it's apparent that his character is battling his own set of demons and does so only as a knee-jerk reaction to his pain.

Keplinger's choice to use cliched roles in her work is balanced off by the fact that her storyline is solid. Never does the reader feel as if they are being rushed off into a tidy conclusion. Instead, the author paces the story so that her audience can get the full benefit of watching the character's lives come undone and then slowly pieced back together again. Both Bianca and Wesley's character are funny, interesting, and sarcastic enough to keep readers entertained and willing to stick wound to finish Keplinger's story. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is in need of a good chick-lit book or who just loves a good novel about bad boys and strong opinionated female leads. Yet, I would caution against letting younger readers begin this book being that it is meant for a <b>mature</b> audience due to explicit sex scenes throughout the novel.

Sweet Sweet Freedom/Bout of Books Reading Goals

I am happy to announce that....I AM OFFICIALLY DONE WITH MY FIRST YEAR OF GRAD SCHOOL!!!!!!!!!...insert ecstatic shouts of joy here and an uncoordinated impromptu break dance.... I would like to thank all my followers who were patient with my inconsistencies in posting as I wrapped up my school work. I greatly appreciate all of your support in this part of my educational journey and promise to give my all to blogging now that school's out.


Since I am currently participating in the Bout of Books Book-A-Thon and want to read a little bit everyday, I thought it would be nice to have written goals set for what books I want to finish this week. I haven't exactly set up an exact list of books that I want to get read this week, but I do have a few books that I want to read for this month in general. These books include:

The Duff by Kody Keplinger: This is a book about a girl named, Bianca Piper who is seventeen and designated as the "ugly, fat friend" in her circle by her local high school jerk-wad, Wesley. The story basically follows Bianca as she embarks into a love/hate relationship with Wesley as she seeks comfort from personal drama in her life. This book is really popular amongst the BookTube community and comes highly recommended so, I'm excited to read it.

The Golem And The Jinni by Helene Wecker: Wecker's books is one that I picked up from my local bookstore and it seems to be a part-fairy tale/part-immigration story. The Golem is a mystical Jewish creature that comes from clay and in this story happens to take the form of a woman named Chava. Likewise, the Jinni is an Arabic mythological creature that is a well known figure in literature (think Gene from Aladdin). In Wecker's novel, the Jinni is named Ahmad. From the blurb, it would seem that Chava and Ahmad meet and fall in love. I've been looking forward to this novel as well so I'm pretty stocked to have a go at it.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple: I recently put this book into my TBR pile for April and was unable to start it do to time constraints and paper deadlines for school however, I reaaally want to start this book this week. The story line is well known throughout the BookTube community, but basically, Bernadette is a woman that goes missing on a family vacation and it is left up to her daughter, Bee to find her. Using clues that her mother left behind, Bee  sets out to find her mother.

So Long A Letter by Mariama Ba: This book is a book that I anticipated reading for my Global Literature class, but never got around to doing so. The story follows Ramatoulaye, a Senegalese woman whose husband takes a second wife and subsequently leaves her and her children to fend for themselves. The story is written in a letter/diary form and is short (about 90 pages). Issues that are prevalent in the novel include adultery, betrayal, and social issues that come from polygamous marriages.

Divorce Islamic Style by Amara Lakhous: I picked this book up on a whim from the library. The story follows Christian, a man who is skilled in acquiring languages and is therefore chosen to infiltrate a supposed ring of Muslim terrorist in Rome, Italy. Christian is forced to change his name and his identity and become a part of this group to determine who is the ring leader. Along the way, he meets and falls in love with Safia, a married Egyptian immigrant who is unhappy in her marriage and with the lack of chances that she as a Muslim woman has in general.

Hopefully, I can finish these five novels by NEXT Sunday. I'm really excited for the Bout of Books Book-A-Thon book challenge since this is going to be my first one. I hope everyone is doing well and making massive strides in their TBR piles.

Happy Reading,


Thursday, May 9, 2013

for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow was enuf Choreopoem Review & For Colored Girls' Movie Review

I gave for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow was enuf  3/5 stars and For Colored Girls 5/5 stars.

for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow was enuf is a choreopoem (i.e., a poem that is meant to be performed with added movement along with dialogue) by Ntozake Shange, which was published in 1975 and recently turned into a movie entitled, For Colored Girls by Tyler Perry in 2010.

Shange's choreopoem was very interesting to read. In the beginning I was confused by Shange's abbreviations and had to use guess work to figure out what she was saying, but as the choreopoem went on, I got better at discerning what she was saying since she frequently repeated certain words like cd (could) or waz (was). Thank goodness for this because the action in this choreopoem speeds by and if you're not on point, you'll easily miss something. Since this was a choreopoem, the actual character building isn't really meant to be full blown. In addition, Shange's motives for creating the characters is meant more so for them to represent ideas than for them to actually have personalities.

While I did like this choreopoem, I would have to say without actually seeing a visual interpretation of it (be it a theatrical production, the tv movie, or the film adaptation), one could get lost fairly easily. Since I read this choreopoem for an assignment and watched Tyler Perry's film adaptation in tangent with reading Shange's work, I have to say, I actually got a better feeling for what Shange was doing with her work from watching Perry's movie. Without seeing Shange's work in action, I would have just chalked this read up as an overblown classic, but the visual representation made this piece one of my favorite...movies that is. I know this is harsh, but I still felt as if Shange's work would be better off packaged as simple poems in written form opposed to as a single unit that is meant to be read as a full chorepoem/play. And yes, I am aware that Shange admits that she did write these poems singuraly and later preformed then as a collective unit however, I must go off of how it was presented to me in it's published form.

Perry's film on the other hand was OUT-STANDING! At the time this film came out, I was under the impression that it would be similar to his other works and that the film itself was scary since it deals with subject matter like, abortions and rape. However, I was pleasently surprised to find that Perry handled everything tastefully. The actresses he chose to represent each character was phenomenal and fitting. I especially enjoyed Loretta Devine as the lady in green and Anika Noni Rose as the lady in yellow. These two poured their hearts into their characters and it shows.

Out of all the poems though, my favorites from both, the choreopoem and the film would have to be "somebody almost walked off with all my stuff" and "no assistance" performed by Loretta Devine in Perry's film and "my love is too...," which was performed by all the colored ladies in the film and choreopoem.  from the film version and "dark phrases," which was also performed by all the colored ladies in the film and choreopoem in the written form. 

This choreopoem is something I would recommend that everybody read and watch at least once. It's definitely gives one food for thought. But, beware, viewer discretion is advised. Shange's work isn't for a younger audience, it's better suited for individuals who can truly grasp what is being talked about in the poems.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I'm Officially Free!...Come Friday

Bout of Books

I'm in the final home stretch for my first year of Graduate School and I am Über pumped for the freedom that's going to come from submitting my last paper this Friday. With all my new found free time, I have decided to enter into the Bout of Books Read-a-Thon.

The Bout of Books Read-a-Thon is described as:
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 13th and runs through Sunday, May 19th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 7.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books Team

For this challenge, I want to read at least 10 books 5 books. I'm setting my aim pretty low since next week is my school's graduation ceremony and my family is coming to visit  and I don't want to be reading while I should be "socializing"...LOL I'm not really a big socializer especially, when I feel like my time could be better used reading however, I mustn't be rude so I will choose to finish five books by May 19, 2013. I'll have to come up with which books I'm going to read later. For now, I'll just focus on this final paper. (^_^)