Friday, March 31, 2017

Diversity Bingo Update #1

Hey guys, if you remember this post, I mentioned some short term goals I had for this year and why I decided not to set as many long term goals. One of my long term goals for the year was to complete as many squares from the Diversity Bingo board that's floating around as possible. I've read quite a few books that cross-off some squares, so I thought I would update you.

Categories Completed:
Diverse nonfiction: Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin (Transgender Youth)
POC on the Cover: Ms. Marvel vol. 1-3 (Reread)
Book by an Author of Color: The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou
Non-Western Real World Setting: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Spain and Egypt) 
Neuro-Diverse:The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (Autism Spectrum Disorder) Looking at this square, I see that it says own voices, so I will have to find another read for this square as well. 

Currently Reading:
Displaced MC: The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon

I'm really enjoying this project and am happy to see that a lot of the books that I pick up without consulting the board, have a place on the board. This confirms that I am a naturally diverse reader, which makes me very happy. I'm excited to continue with this board throughout the year. I'll have another update soon! 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Recently Read: The Heart of a Woman

Author: Maya Angelou
Genre: Classic/ Memoir
Publication Date: 1981
Page Count: 352
Rating: 5/5

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You might also like:
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

This is the forth book in Angelou's memoir series and takes place in 1960s. Angelou writes about her involvement in the American Civil Rights Movement as well as her time living in South Africa as the wife of a South American Civil Rights leader. 

I love Maya Angelou; she's one of my heroes and all-time favorite poets. I am loving her memoirs; she was such an incredible woman. I haven't reviewed all of the memoirs I have read so far on the blog, but I have enjoyed each one. This was one of my favorites, along with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I love how frankly Angelou discusses her romantic relationships and sex in her memoirs, and this one was no different. I really enjoyed reading Angelou's account of her relationship with Make, the South African Civil Rights leader. They had an intense relationship for many reasons, and Angelou writes about it with heart, clarity, and compassion. 

I also loved hearing about her efforts in the Civil Rights Movements of two different countries on two different continents. She was such a smart and brave woman, and I love her activism and insights. These novels trace the changing relationship between Angelou and her son Guy, which is great as well. I have loved seeing him grow up and seeing how she has raised him with love and respectful space. 

Angelou's writing is captivating, and you feel like she is speaking directly to you while you read these memoirs. This one had a hilarious moment in it, that had me laughing for days afterwards whenever I thought about it. I loved the humor and bravery the moment showed and the way Angelou wrote it. 

If you haven't read her memoirs yet, I can not recommend them enough. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Recently Read: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Author: Benjamin Alire Seaenz
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publication Date: 2014
Page Count: 359
Rating: 5/5

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Aristotle is your average Mexican-American teenage boy in the 1980s. He's lonely, moody, and trying to find his place in the world.  He feels alone in his family with his older sisters moved out of the house, and his older brother in jail and erased from the family history. His dad is a war vet still struggling with PTSD  and Ari just can't connect with him. One summer day, a boy named Dante swims into his life as his first real friend and jump-starts Ari connections in his life. 

I devoured this book. I read it in two sittings and couldn't put it down until I had finished it. I really loved Aristotle's narration, and it's been quite a while since I have gotten sucked into a YA contemporary like this. Obviously, I'm the last human on Earth to read this book, but I'm so glad that I finally did. It's a book that is somewhat sad and happy and romantic and frustrating all at once, just like real life. 

I loved the romance; I loved the characters; and I loved the theme of family and self-discovery. I loved the diversity elements in this novel as they were so natural. I really appreciated Dante's personality and sensitivity because that's not an element seen in young male characters very often. I also loved how Saenz placed Ari's and Dante's families side-by-side in the novel. Dante begins the novel with a very strong relationship with his parents; where as Ari feels very distant from his father, who is a Vietnam vet. This juxtaposition of the families, and their development throughout the book, was really beautiful and worked to illustrate the different forms that families and love exist in. Making and maintaining connections is one of the hardest, but most important elements of being human, and it's explored beautifully in this novel. 

If you are looking for a read to loose yourself in, this one is perfect. I can already see myself rereading this one in the near future. It's also a great read to mark off a square on your Diversity Bingo sheet if you are participating. I''l be updating you on my progress soon. 

This has put me in the mood for more YA contemporaries, so leave me your recommendations as always!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Recently Read: The Alchemist

Author: Paulo Coelho
Genre: Fiction/ Modern Classic
Publication Date: 1999
Page Count: 177
Rating: 3/5

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This novel is a modern classic, originally written in Portuguese. I decided to pick it up as part of my Short Reads February TBR, as I have been meaning to read it forever. It follows Santiago, a young Shepard, who has a reoccurring dream about a treasure at the base of the Egyptian Pyramids and sets out to find it and his destiny.

This novel reads like a combination of a fable and a religious tale. It's simple in its language and plot, but rich in theme and wonder. This novel deals with the ideas of fate and destiny and how these concepts work in tandem with the universe. It's heavy in life advice and wisdom, but it doesn't feel preachy. I can see why this novel has earned the title of modern classic, and I think it will continue to be read in the years to come by many readers. 

This is a novel I can see myself rereading in the future and is worth checking out if you haven't read it yet. I am always interested by works that deal with the ideas of fate and destiny and this is a great examination of those topics.

I rated this novel three stars because although it was pleasant and enjoyable, I find myself without a lot to say about it. I expected a tiny bit more from it because of its reputation, but overall, I did enjoy this work and its message. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day Reading Recommendations

Happy International Women's Day! I'm here today with some recommendations of books by women from around the world. I'll be posting again this month highlighting some of the books by women that are on my TBR, because most of my TBR fits that category. Please leave me your favorite books by women below! For some classics by women that I have loved, check out my Women Writers page and my Women's Lit Classic Club Page. 

Passing By Nella Larson- America
This book is not read enough! It was written during the Harlem Renaissance and deals with the choices of two black women who were childhood friends; one chooses to pass as a white woman and one decides to continue to live in the black community. 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou- America
Maya Angelou is my hero. Her autobiographies are second to none. This novel made me so emotional and proud. A must read. 

Gigi and The Cat by Colette- France
I enjoyed both of these novellas as they were my first Colette works. I'm eager to read more of her works. I thought Gigi was a thought provoking read, and is something I wouldn't mind revisiting. 

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb- Pakistan 
This is another must read. Malala is so young but so wise and full of compassion. Her narrative voice is so honest and smart. 

Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Dunn- Worldwide
This is a nonfiction work about women's tribulations around the world and how they overcome them. This work changed my feminism for the better. 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley- Britain
Shelley's most famous novel is a masterpiece. She pioneered the genre of science-fiction and wrote a novel that is endlessly thought provoking. This novel is what great literature is meant to be. 

Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding- Britain 
I love this book! Bridget is the hero of all single women! If you need a laugh, pick this up. It's even funnier than the movie. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Recently Read: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Author: Muriel Sparks
Genre: Classic/ Fiction
Publication Date: 1961
Page Count: 128
Rating: 4/5

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Miss Jean Brodie is a woman in her prime. She is a teacher at a girl's school and doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the teaching staff. She is eclectic and unpredictable; she teaches her girls about life, love, and art and butts heads with the headmistress over educational philosophy. Miss Brodie has her set of favorite girls, and the novel follows them and Miss Brodie through the years. 

I really didn't know what to expect from this short novel. It was my first Spark, and I knew almost nothing about the plot. I had heard good things about Spark, and I loved this beautiful Penguin version, so I decided to add it to my February Short Reads TBR and I'm glad I did. I was surprised by how captivated I was by this novel and really enjoyed it. 

Although this novel is very short, it is packed with complexity. Sandy and Miss Brodie become the most developed characters and are very real. Both characters are so flawed and complicated on their own, that they combine to make a point about the complexities of human emotion and motivation. This novel is an interesting comment on how children view adults, and how they can admire them, hate them, love them, and be intimidated by them, all at the same time. It's also an interesting comment on loyalty and trust, as well as the enigma that is romantic entanglement. 

This is a novel I would have had a lot of fun writing a paper about, as it is short but packed full of complex and very-human themes and ideas. I may lose myself in the rabbit hole of academic writings on this novel the next time I find I can't sleep (totally normal to read academic journals when you can't sleep, right?) I'm interested to see if people are writing about this novel still, and if so, what they are saying. 

I'm really interested to pick up more of Spark's work now, and equally interested in the movie adaptation where Maggie Smith plays Miss Jean Brodie!