Monday, April 30, 2018

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock | Review

18144031Title: Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More
Author: Janet Mock
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: February 4, 2014

In 2011, Marie Claire magazine published a profile of Janet Mock in which she stepped forward for the first time as a trans woman. Those twenty-three hundred words were life-altering for the editor, turning her into an influential and outspoken public figure and a desperately needed voice for an often voiceless community. In these pages, she offers a bold and inspiring perspective on being young, multicultural, economically challenged, and transgender in America.
Welcomed into the world as her parents' firstborn son, Mock decided early on that she would be her own person-no matter what. She struggled as the smart, determined child in a deeply loving yet ill-equipped family that lacked the money, education, and resources necessary to help her thrive. Mock navigated her way through her teen years without parental guidance, but luckily, with the support of a few close friends and mentors, she emerged much stronger, ready to take on-and maybe even change-the world.
This powerful memoir follows Mock's quest for identity, from an early, unwavering conviction about her gender to a turbulent adolescence in Honolulu that saw her transitioning during the tender years of high school, self-medicating with hormones at fifteen, and flying across the world alone for sex reassignment surgery at just eighteen. With unflinching honesty, Mock uses her own experience to impart vital insight about the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of trans youth and brave girls like herself.
Despite the hurdles, Mock received a scholarship to college and moved to New York City, where she earned a master's degree, enjoyed the success of an enviable career, and told no one about her past. She remained deeply guarded until she fell for a man who called her the woman of his dreams. Love fortified her with the strength to finally tell her story, enabling her to embody the undeniable power of testimony and become a fierce advocate for a marginalized and misunderstood community. A profound statement of affirmation from a courageous woman, Redefining Realness provides a whole new outlook on what it means to be a woman today, and shows as never before how to be authentic, unapologetic, and wholly yourself. 
I picked this one up since it was part of my syllabus for my English class last fall. I don't really read memoirs, so this book definitely opened my eyes up to the genre. I ended up wholly enjoying this book and reading about all of Mock's hurdles describing what it's like to be transgender in our society.

This book definitely opened my eyes to the struggles of being transgender as well as the terminology that comes with it.  Mock is an extremely strong woman, and I could feel her power through her words on every page. She's also an extremely talented writer.

If you're looking for a memoir about truth and courage, this is definitely the one for you. By the end of it, you will feel like you know Mock in real life. I highly recommend picking it up. It's written in a way that will make it a fairly easy and enjoyable book, as well.

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Talented Mr. Ripley AKA the Best Book I've Ever Read in English Class

2247142Title: The Talented Mr. Ripley
Author: Patricia Highsmith
Release Date: June 17, 2008 (first published in 1955)
Publisher: W.W. Norton Company
Series: Ripley #1

Since his debut in 1955, Tom Ripley has evolved into the ultimate bad boy sociopath, influencing countless novelists and filmmakers. In this first novel, we are introduced to suave, handsome Tom Ripley: a young striver, newly arrived in the heady world of Manhattan in the 1950s. A product of a broken home, branded a "sissy" by his dismissive Aunt Dottie, Ripley becomes enamored of the moneyed world of his new friend, Dickie Greenleaf. This fondness turns obsessive when Ripley is sent to Italy to bring back his libertine pal but grows enraged by Dickie's ambivalent feelings for Marge, a charming American dilettante. A dark reworking of Henry James's The Ambassadors, The Talented Mr. Ripley-is up to his tricks in a 90s film and also Rene Clement's 60s film, "Purple Noon."
This was hands-down the best book I've ever read for an English class in college. This book kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I just wanted to know what was going to happen, especially because I was in the mind of a serial-killer who was the protagonist of this tale. I know that it has also been made into a movie, but I still haven't seen it.

Every time Tom made a decision in this story, I was completely surprised. I really thought that he was going to end up being an okay guy, yet he does some seriously messed-up stuff! It really made me realize that not everyone could have the best intentions. Yet, at the end of it all, I felt for Tom. I felt bad for him, even though he doesn't seem like the best person. That's what is so messed up about this book!

I also just found out this book was a series, which I didn't know until I looked it up on Goodreads. I'll definitely have to check out the rest of the series at some point, because it really did end on a cliff hanger.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk | Review

5759Title: Fight Club
Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Release Date: October 17, 2005 (first published 1996)
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company (NYC)

"The first rule about fight club is you don't talk about fight club." Chuck Palahniuk's outrageous and startling debut novel that exploded American literature and spawned a movement. Every weekend, in the basements and parking lots of bars across the country, young men with white-collar jobs and failed lives take off their shoes and shirts and fight each other barehanded just as long as they have to. Then they go back to those jobs with blackened eyes and loosened teeth and the sense that they can handle anything. Fight Club is the invention of Tyler Durden, projectionist, waiter, and dark, anarchic genius, and it's only the beginning of his plans for violent revenge on an empty consumer-culture world. 

This was yet another one that I had to read for my English class! However, I actually really liked this one! I even got to watch part of the movie in class, and I liked that too. I still haven't gotten around to watching the whole movie.

This book had a certain sense of humor yet darkness at the same time, which is why I enjoyed it so much I think. The whole time you're wondering what's really going on, because you can tell there's some deeper meaning and that not everyone is who they say they are. I don't want to say too much and give stuff away, but that was definitely one of my favorite parts of the story.

 I have recommended this book to countless friends, and this is me extending that invitation to you as well. You're going to love the characters and the dark humor that surrounds this novel. You will be on the edge of your seat, wondering what's actually going on. I'd also suggest checking out the movie, if you haven't yet!

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath | Mini Review

395040Title: The Bell Jar
Author: Sylvia Plath
Release Date: August 2, 2015 (originally published January 1963)
Publisher: HarperCollins

The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under-- maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that Esther's insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.
This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommending reading, and more.

I read this book for my English class last fall at my college. I actually enjoyed it too! I was glad that I did, because I have a lot of troubles getting into classic novels, yet I instantly got invested in Esther's life.

Even though I did read the print version of this book, I have heard excellent things about the audiobook, which makes me want to listen to the audio at some point.

This book touched on some dark stuff, yet I thought it did so in an interesting way. There were also splots of feminism throughout the story, which I liked. I also liked how all of Esther's thoughts were pretty uncensored and very free-flowing. Plus, it was just so beautifully written. It's definitely a classic that I look forward to rereading in the future. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia | Mini Review

77092Title: Dreaming in Cuban
Author: Cristina Garcia
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: February 10, 1993

Here is the dreamy and bittersweet story of a family divided by politics and geography by the Cuban revolution. It is the family story of Celia del Pino, and her husband, daughter and grandchildren, from the mid-1930s to 1980. Celia's story mirrors the magical realism of Cuba itself, a country of beauty and poverty, idealism and corruption. DREAMING IN CUBAN presents a unique vision and a haunting lamentation for a past that might have been. 
This was another book that I had to read for my English class last fall. I found it to be interesting, yet at times it was rather boring and I found it hard to keep interested in what I was reading. However, I think the most interesting aspect of the novel was that it was magical realism, which I hadn't read before. It was nice to get a peak into a genre that I wasn't very familiar with before, and it's opened my eyes to a bunch of new books that I definitely wouldn't have picked up otherwise.

Another great thing about this book was the multiple point of views from everyone in the family. It tells the story through a few generations, which was really interesting. I felt like I was really invested in the family and all that they were about.

If you're looking for a quick, magical realism novel about Cuba and families, then I'd suggest giving this one a read.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Awakening by Kate Chopin | Mini Review

916134Title: The Awakening
Author: Kate Chopin
Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
Release Date: December 29, 1999 (first published 1899)

This revision of a widely adopted critical edition presents the 1969 Seyersted text of Kate Chopin's novel along with critical essays that introduce students to The Awakening from the perspectives of feminism, gender (new essay), new historical, deconstructionist, and reader response criticism. An additional new essay demonstrates how various approaches can be combined. The text and essays are complemented by introductions to The Awakening and to the criticism, a glossary of critical terms, and (for the first time) contextual documents. 

I had to read this book for my English class, and I honestly didn't enjoy it that much. For some reason, classic novels are really hit or miss for me, and this one was definitely a miss. I found the book to be written very beautifully, so I did appreciate Chopin's writing style, though the plot itself was kind of boring and hard for me to get interested in. I honestly found myself most interested in the book at the very end, and then it was over.

Despite that, I did appreciate how much feminism was in this novel, especially with Edna trying to decide what she wants to do with her life with the society that she was in, as well as the time period. I found her to be a fascinating character.

I think this book is worth reading at least once, but it wasn't one that I will ever reread.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury | Mini Review

13079982Title: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: November 29, 2011

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.
Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television 'family'. But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people did not live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.
When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. 

I had to read this book for a Communications Media course at my college, and I was pretty glad that I enjoyed it! The book is split into three big chapters, and I flew right through them when I was reading. The story is very interesting and keeps you on your toes.

I think I found it most intriguing because I never really thought about a world where books are banned, since they play such a large role in our society today. I mean, I'm a book blogger, so they play even a bigger role in my own personal life.

Despite some of the parts of the books being extremely interesting, every once in a while the book would hit a lot and get kind of slow-paced, which is why I only gave this book four stars.

Looking back on it now, this is definitely a classic dystopian novel, and I will be sure to check out more of Bradbury's pieces in the future.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas | Review

18006496Title: Queen of Shadows
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Series: Throne of Glass #4

The queen has returned.
Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire-for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past...
She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.
She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and waiting their lost queen's triumphant return.
The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena's epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world. 
After Heir of Fire, I honestly wasn't that stoked to pick this one up, yet I still wanted to know what was going to happen.

I feel like what I liked most about this book was the characters. Celaena has finally embraced herself as Aelin, though it does get confusing from time to time because I still want to call her Celaena. She now goes by Aelin in the book. There was also a lot of Manon in this book. She grew on me even more after book three. I just find her so interesting and hardcore. I can definitely see her and Dorian together, since it's so obvious that he and Celaena will probably not be together anymore, which makes me incredibly sad!

Speaking of romance, it also seems like she will not be with Chaol. He has become a rebel of sorts and seems to not even be as interested in her as he once was, which confuses me, because I thought he was really in love with her. Guess not! Yet now there's another guy that's interested in her... Rowan. I'm not completely against this, because I do really like Rowan, though I think he's changed a lot as a character, and I can't tell if I like it or not. He's definitely softened, though I guess people do that over time.

I did find this book to be slower than the last, but I guess that's what happens when the book is the size of a brick. Even though the pacing was slow, I still found it interesting enough to keep reading, which is good in my book.  It definitely picked up a bit towards the end.

Needless to say, I still want to know what's going to happen in the next book. Hopefully I"ll start reading that one soon enough.

Monday, April 2, 2018

i love poetry thanks to rupi kaur

23513349Title: Milk and Honey
Author: Rupi Kaur
Publisher: Createspace
Release Date: November 4, 2014

milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is a sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look. 

I remember seeing this book absolutely everywhere. It was plastered across multiple blogs, featured in Buzzfeed posts, and was in almost every store I walked into. Because of that, I knew that it was one that I had to check out. I am incredibly thankful that I did.

This book is completely poetry, which means it's the first book of poetry that I've read. I absolutely adored it to bits. Every poem was filled with so much meaning and emotion, that I felt each and every one. I'm sure that there is at least one poem in here that you are going to relate to and you'll never forget it. The way that Kaur writes is beautiful.

I know that she recently published another poetry collection as well, and I'm going to be reading that one soon. If you haven't picked this one up, I highly suggest you do. Since it's poetry, you will definitely fly threw it.