Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic-V.E. Schwab

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To experience magic, one must peel the layers of their eyes back and be prepared to be enraptured by something wordless, formless, and mysterious. Magic weaves and bobs throughout the story of A Darker Shade of Magic and ultimately it is what creates the story itself. Magic is the backbone. I believe it is a talent to be able to write a fantasy fiction narrative that is able to reach wide audiences. V.E. Schwab does so effortlessly; no wonder this book has taken the literary world by its coattails and makes everyone pay attention. The anticipation to finally read the book has been building up for some time, so I was quite excited to sink my teeth into its rich pages. After a few disappointing reads, I was hoping Schwab’s novel would ease some of the reader stagnation I was experiencing. A Darker Shade of Magic  far exceeded my expectation, and it lit a reading  fire in me that was just a bit dulled. The novel is a web of mystery shrouded in darkness and magic, but getting lost among the chaos is all you’ll want after diving in the story. Schwab is creating a world among worlds, and I’m here for it. The pages melt beneath your fingers, but not in a sanguine and buoyant way. Instead, the pages sink into you like hot wax, searing the skin,  all the while satisfying the desire and curiosity that edges on you for more.

Imagine London centuries ago. The image is building in your mind. The streets, the people, the alleys. Now fill London with magic.  Then, layer on another London. A preexisting world that is in another domain, another existence. Lastly, add two more Londons, to create a total of four Londons, all the same, but different as their atmosphere exists in contrasting planes. There is Red London-a place where life and magic is rich and dwelling. Grey London- harbors in a grungy corner, lacking magic’s tough. White London-cold, brutal, magic-thirsty and ruled by tyrants. Then, there’s Black London, whose magic once ruled so strong, it pushed the land and its people out of existence and remains only a distant tale seldom told. The main protagonist Kell is someone or something  called Antari or blood magician or Traveler. He acts as an ambassador and adopted brother to the Prince of Red London. Kell can traveler between the worlds and goes on tasks to deliver letters between the rulers of the Londons. There is a looming darkness that emerges and Kell becomes trapped in the surfacing danger. With the help of the fiery, pickpocketing pirate Delilah Bard, Kell must control the spilling of blood and magic before it’s too late.

This was such an incredible reading experience and I’m so happy I partook in all the hoopla that surrounded A Darker Shade of Magic. This book encompassed everything a fantasy novel should. Schwab created worlds where it’s easy to get lost in and her writing style is effortless, pulling you right in. I am a huge fan of her novel and I can’t wait to read A Gathering of Shadows, the next book in the series. The story isn’t hard to get into, and the use of magic is really interesting that it keeps it quite entertaining. During my read, there are bits that really remind me of Harry Potter and it also has a very Lord of Ring-esque plot   feel to it. I enjoyed the character Kell as he has a quiet mysteriousness about him which I like.  Delilah or Lila took me a while to warm up to as some of her actions annoyed me, but overall I think she’s going to prove to be a key character in the stories to come. This book was phenomenal and I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. I enjoyed every moment of it, and I would highly recommend this novel.  You won’t be disappointed.

Happy Reading!

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Book Review: Fates and Furies-Lauren Groff

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Paradox of marriage: You can never know someone entirely; you do know someone entirely.

This book has been on every avid book reader’s lips for quite some time, so I was curious to see what all the excitement was about. Along with the constant buzz of Lauren Groff’s latest novel, there were a lot of mixed emotions and reviews of the novel. After a long debate of whether I wanted to read a novel with such mixed opinions, I decided to be a fair judge and read the book myself instead of lean on the numerous blog posts and Goodreads reviews.  I found my reading experience to be just as muddled as some of the reviews. Groff writes with a quiet urgency and her prose is a canvas of vivid color and imagery; yet, there is a lightness on the tongue when you read it. The pages melt and sink into your veins, but you don’t feel the movement of the words until you reach the end.

[Mathilde’s Prayer: Let me be the wave. And if I cannot be the wave, let me be the rupture at the bottom. Let me be that terrible first rift in the dark.]

Lotto and Mathilde are meant for each other. Deeply in every way, knitted together with the cords of the heart. At least, that’s what everyone else seems to think. Groff this paints the idea of marriage and grand scheme of love as beautiful-intriguing. Lotto and Mathilde’s marriage is envied from everyone that comes in contact with them. However, when the rose colored glass are removed from the milky eyes, one can see that their marriage is filled crescents of darkness and blank space.

The book is dived into two sections Fates  and then Furies. The first part Fates focuses on the husband Lotto (Lancelot) Satterwhite. Lotto grows up with high expectations placed upon his shoulders at a young age. His mother pushes him to become a prodigy of some sort and constantly encourages him to be the best in everything. Lotto becomes a struggling actor, fighting to pay rent, to a successful playwright able to buy anything he wants. Lotto’s cocky, confident, charismatic personality ultimately leads to his downfall, giving the readers a very selfish outlook on how he lived his life. Groff doesn’t make Lotto despicable but she doesn’t make him particularly likable either.

The second part of the novel is called Furies. Mathilde’s perspective of the marriage is illuminated as Groff tells her side of the same story but from her viewpoint and experiences. Groff reveals the darker side of Mathilde that is hidden when told from Lotto’s perspective. Mathilde is the anti-hero as she is also not quite unlikable but not favored either. Although Mathilde is the known to be a loving and doting wife of Lotto, there is a gray shadowed corner of her life and emotions that the general eye and even Lotto does not see. Because much of the meat of the story happens from Mathilde’s perspective, it’s best to read the book without knowing much beforehand.

There were a lot of negative reviews of Fates and Furies but there was a good balance of positive reviews to counter balance it. It took a moment to really get into the novel, as some of the prose is way too fluffy and a bit pretentious. At times, I felt as Groff was over reaching and trying too hard to make it an art masterpiece. Although the prose was really beautiful in areas, I did have moments where I just rolled my eyes at the grandiose of it all.   For the first half of the novel, the pace is slow and you have to really pull through to get into the marrow of the story. Once the novel gained momentum, I found myself really enjoying it, and took in the literary beauty of it more. The characters aren’t likable as I mentioned before, but I did feel more empathetic towards Mathilde which I believe was the author’s intention. I like that Mathilde has a darkness in her and she doesn’t define “marriage” or “wife” as a typical construct. Instead, Groff takes the idea of marriage and being in love and really explores the dark caverns that often times in the public eye goe unnoticed. It’s an interesting read, but one that I would recommended. Despite the mixed opinions on the book, I overall really enjoyed it and gave it four stars on Goodreads. If you are a fan of lush prose, then you most likely will enjoy Fates and Furies.

What to Read When You’re All Trumped Out

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We’re in the middle of a political and global crisis. This is no secret. Being in a different country and watching this mess of politics unfurl is hilarious but also eye opening and downright scary. It’s more important than ever to get involved in voting, especially if you don’t want the impending future to actually happen. Capital Hill is no rookie to lies and deceit and unfortunately it’s at all the little people’s expense. This election is a complete joke in my opinion, but it’s a joke that’s worth getting serious about. How people can vote for a bigot and racist is beyond me, but that’s the world we live in. So, with that being said, it’s time get into shape politically and get smart. There is so much that happens in the White House that goes unsaid and decisions that are made under the radar. Instead of being left behind in the all the dust the electoral candidates have kicked up, be proactive and educate yourself in what is happening in the world. Part of that is to READ, READ, READ. I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay abreast on current events.  To help you with that, I have made a short list of some important reads in order to better understand America’s political system.

  1. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

 

imagesU8ZLJZ2Q2. The Rise of Political Lying by Peter Oborne

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3.  The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engel

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4. It’s Even Worse Than You Thought by Norman Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann

its5. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

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So there you have it! Immerse yourself into some political goodness and don’t be blinded any longer. What’s your favorite political read?

Happy Reading!

 

Teen Tech Week 2016

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This weeks marks the beginning of Teen Tech Week which informs and educates students on how to use digital resources and services to help prepare them for college and succeed in school. Libraries are the focus in showcasing the technical outlets that teens have access to too, often times free. If you are a teen or know a teen, encourage them to really explore the world of the library and all it has to offer. You can find more information about Teen Tech Week here.

Happy Reading!

What to Read For Women’s History Month

March is a great month for many reasons. First, it’s National Book Month and second, it’s Women’s History Month. Because I am definitely picking up my reading for National Book Month, I want to include some books are that ideal to celebrate Women’s History Month! There are many extraordinary lives to be honored this month, take a look at the reading selection and see if anything fits your fancy. Happy Book and Women’s Month to you all!

  1. 1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

HeLa-Cells-GalleyCat2. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

americanah3. Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman

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4. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

untitled5. Florynce “Flo” Kennedy: The Life of a Black Feminist Radical by Sherie M. Randolph

56d728dd1e0000b3007033036.Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

tehran7. Women Race and Class-Angela Y. Davis.

6356358. Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space by Lynn Sherr

sally-ride-9781476725772_hr9.  A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

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10. Beloved by Toni Morrison

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Of course, there are many book out there that celebrate women and their impact on the world, these are just a few of suggestions to get you started. New York Public library has complied a wonderful archive of literary things that are specifically for Women’s History Day. You can find it here. How are you celebrating Women’s History Month?

Happy Reading!

Happy National Book Month

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Happy late but nonetheless happy, World Book Day and National Book Month! It’s a great time to dive into reading, or to revisit some of your favorite books. Many schools have different events for National Reading Month, and seeing the kids get dressed as their favorite story book characters is always endearing. As reading plays an important part in shaping the way we speak, think, and feel, it’s crucial we encourage others as well as ourselves to fully indulge in reading and improving our literacy. Reading is the foundation for so many things in our lives, and it’s our job as parents, educators, role modals, or friend to emphasize the importance of books.

From a child’s first foray into the depths of a story to an adult’s escape into a world of words, reading plays an integral role in our lives.”
-President Barack Obama

Besides Black History Month  and Christmas holiday, National Book Month is a favorite of month of mine. It’s during a great time of the year where most people find themselves in a mid winter slump, looking for something to revive them. As your resident book hero (not really) I have come up with some things you can do this month to spark your interest in reading and love for words.

  1. Visit your local library- This a wonderful time to shower your library with lots of love. Not only do they have a fairly great reading selection during this month, libraries tend to host special events just for National Book Month.

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2. Find a bookish foundation and get in involved! There are so many foundations that emphasize reading and literacy. Here’s a link to one called the Reading Rockets their mission is pretty awesome.

3. Start a book club with your friends- What better way to bond, than over a good book? Here you can find some top reading selections  just for book clubs.

4. Read a book every week- Yes, I know this one can be challenging, but this month you can try to kick your reading into high speed and read books you usually wouldn’t.

5. Write a review or two-This is a great way to write down what you thought about a book you read. They are many ways to dive into book blogging, or if you don’t want to blog, then you can write in a book journal to document your inner musings.

6. Take your children to a book reading- I used to love these as a child and remember the storyteller always use to dress up in beautiful costumes to read the books. Check your local bookstores and libraries to see if they have any upcoming children storytelling events that you can take your kids to enjoy.

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7. Join in the brouhaha that is Tournament of Books- Come one come call to the amazingly entertaining book event that is know as the Tournament of Books. See literary heavyweights battle it out for the top spot. Check it out here.

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These are just a few things you can do to enjoy National Book Month. Keep reading and enjoy this time to immerse yourself in books. Check back for more events!

Happy Reading!

 

 

The Voices Behind the Book Blogs

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The book blogosphere is pretty vast and deep, and many would say it’s its own world. I am proud and happy to be able to be apart of a great environment where I can share my passion of books and literature. Like all things great, there are flaws that do come with it. One of them being the lack of voices from people of color. I’m not saying there aren’t minority voices out there in the book blogging world, they just aren’t as prevalent. Every voice is important to hear no matter the race or religion.

When I first broke into book blogging, many people outside of book blogging thought it was “interesting” or strange for a black girl to start a book blog. Yes, hello, we (black girls) read too! I definitely didn’t see a lot of black girls or guys blogging or vlogging about books, but it didn’t dissuade me. Instead, I was encouraged to share my voice and opinions on the books I read. I have been a huge reader for all of my life, and what better way to share your thoughts with others than to start a blog?

Read. Read. Read. Just don’t read one type of book. Read different books by various authors so that you develop different style.

-R.L. Stine

While in university, I majored in English Literature and minored in Linguistics, and even there, there weren’t many brown people. I get it, there are TONS of dead white male  authors that are studied in literature. When involved in literary discourse, the voices are limited to a certain scope. Even when I took an African American literature class, there were two black students including myself. Our voices and opinions are needed desperately in the literary world. Whether it’s through writing, blogging, illustrating, criticism, or teaching, our thoughts matter and are important.  I love when I hear a black person brushing up on their classics or can engage in a stimulating discussion about a book or literary theory. I just want to raise a perpetual fist in the air and shout “YES!” at the top of my lungs.

When it comes to book blogging, I want to see more diverse voices behind the blogs. It’s not difficult to break into the book blogging “scene” and so far it’s been a wonderful experience. Blogging is something that can take up as much time as you want, so you can choose your pace. Black girls or guys reading isn’t “strange” or “weird”, it’s empowering which is why I encourage anyone to give it a try! We can’t make waves unless we’re willing to get wet. If you’re thinking about blogging and want some advice, or just want to talk about books, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Also if you know of any people of color book bloggers, keep encouraging them. Do you have a favorite book blogger and/or blog? If so, let me know!

Happy Reading!

 I believe we need more culturally diverse books – about disabled characters, though not about their disability, about people with different sexual orientations, or a boy who is a cross-dresser. We need to reflect the diversity of our society.

-Malorie Blackman