Fledgling: My Review

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I was looking through the books I have read in 2017, to find topics for a new article, and I realised I haven’t made a review for Fledgling by Octavia Butler yet. This book was recommended by one of my professors last semester and I absolutely loved it. It was unlike anything I have ever read before, and I definitely recommend you check it out as well. I’ve mentioned it a few times here, but I haven’t made a proper book review, and this book more than deserves one. So here we go.

Genre: Adult Fiction, Sci-Fi, Afrofuturism
Publication: 2005
My rating: ★★★★✩

First of all, a few words about Afrofuturism, which was the topic of my class (taught by Adourahman Waberi, I reviewed his book In the United States of Africa here).

Basically, Afrofuturism is an artistic movment that started with music in the 60s and 70s, with artists such as Sun Ra. It is now also present in literature. It combines aspects such as science fiction and history, sometimes revisiting history with a more afro-centric perspective. I have read some afrofuturist books and they are always unique and fascinating. This was no exception.

The story:

The main character wakes up in a cave with no recall of her past life and what she is doing there. She is naked, and her entire body is in pain. She is hungry, and shows inhuman abilities. She looks like an 11 year old girl, but feels like so much more.

Little by little, she starts uncovering the truth of who she is: she is, in facts, a 53 year old Ina – or vampire if you prefer – and she was genetically modified, making her stronger than the rest of her family. She is able to resist the sun, and stay awake during the day. But people are after her for her abilities, and the whole Ina community is turning upside down.

Warning: May Contain Spoilers

My opinion:

I came into this book not really knowing what to expect, and oh boy, it was a hell of a ride.

At the beginning of the book, the main character has amnesia, so the reader just ignores as much as she does, which is super interesting. Soon, we realise she shows characteristics similar to that of vampires, however, she is different. She later finds out she is actually an Ina, and that vampires are a fiction inspired by Ina.  She has, in addition, been genetically modified to be stronger. She also discovers that her family has been killed because of the experiments they did, experiments that gave her a darker skin, which is more resisting to the sun.

Throughout the book, we see her insufferable need to feed, as well as her need to do the right things for the things she cares, and in honour of her lost family.

Ina are a secret to the society, except to the people they have chosen to feed, and who can live with them. These people are called symbionts, and every Ina needs several ones of them. They can also live longer, but they have to keep a secret. Ina live in big families, or communities.

What I really liked about this book is its very original take on the somehow classic literary theme that is vampirism. It is a perfect blend of fantasy and science-fiction – since we find out that Ina can be genetically modified. And more importantly, it raises issues of racism, as some of the Ina enemies to our main character want her dead because of her skin colour, because they consider that all Ina should be white caucasian as the territory they are originally from is in Eastern Europe (just like the image we have of Dracula). They consider her not pure, and not worthy of living, which led to the extermination of her entire family, responsible for this genetic modification.

This book is calling out on racism in a very subtle way in my opinion, as it is presented among a fictional community of fictional vampires, and yet, that doesn’t make it any less powerful. The actions of these Ina are cruel and undeserved, and yet also a very harsh representation of some real life people’s beliefs.

I had never heard of this book before my professor recommended it, and I have never read anything like it. And was fascinating, the world building is really amazing. It is a very clever and well-written book. I definitely recommend it.

Have you read Fledgling or any other book by Octavia Butler? Feel free to give your opinion in the comments, and recommend me books you think I might like!

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Summer Crush: My Review

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Summer Crush is an anthology of three stories, by Jay E. Tria, Six de los Reyes, and Tara Frejas. Thanks for all three authors, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for a honest review, as part of their blog tour. I absolutely loved Summer Crush!

Genre: New Adult, Romance
Publication: April 9th, 2017
Blog Tour: May 12-19th
My rating: ★★★★☆

Blurb:

Each story follows people attending the same event for the weekend: Summer Crush, on the beach of La Union. A weekend that is all supposed to be about music and sun and dance and happiness.

But for Ana, there is stress lingering in the shadow. Her band member boyfriend Miki co-wrote the star song of the festival, but her thoughts are elsewhere. Her job as an accountant is consuming her life away, and as much as she loves it, she sometimes wishes she didn’t have to spend so much time on it, and starts rethinking her life with Miki. (Story: You only need reminding me by Jay E. Tria)

Filippina has just been reinstated as EG Project’s roadie, and things are going great, except when her semi-secret boyfriend shows up at La Union, and her ex crush starts acting up and might screw up the band’s concert. (Story: Almost There by Tara Frejas)

Rhys has too much things on her hands for the weekend, with Arabella, the new band she’s supposed to take care of, and the song she was forced into cowriting with a member of Trainman. And now she also has to perform on stage. So really, it’s not the time to rethink her relationship with her boyfriend. But lingering feelings for her friend Isaiah get in the way, and as it happens, things don’t always go as planned… (Story: Ocean Eyes by Six de los Reyes)

My opinion:

I was worried that this book might be too cheesy or cliché for me, as it was very obviously classified as romance, but I was delighted to find that it was absolutely my cup of tea, and I definitely recommend it. Now that summer is coming, it’s the perfect read.

Each story is different, and I loved reading from different points of view, and seeing characters from one story in another story. It made me realise I should read anthologies likes this more often, so if you have any to recommend, please do!

The book was easy to read, and the writing of each story very enjoyable. The characters are very relatable, especially Rhys. I really loved her, and how all her inner troubles about life, and crowds and standing out were depicted. Filipina and Ana, the two other main girl characters are also very relatable. These women are strong and know what they want, and it’s very refreshing to read about them.

One more thing I liked in this book was all the little references to music, and all the song lyrics inserted in the story. I love music and poetry, and having this inserted in a novel is always something I enjoy, so of course, I loved it here.

Overall, this was a light and sweet read. It’s quick and easy to read, with beautifully depicted and very relatable characters. I definitely loved this book, and I hope you do too! Please feel free to share your opinion in the comments if you have read it as well!

Recommended for:

If you like anthologies like Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle, then this is definitely a book I will recommend! The main difference is that this one takes place in the summer, but otherwise, it’s the same kind of concept, and I love it.

When I knew I could read more about the characters of Scandalized by Tara Frejas, I knew I had to get my hands on this book. You can hear my thoughts on Scandalized here!

If you liked Songs to get over you by Jay E. Tria and Just for the record or Feels like summer by Six de los Reyes, then you should definitely check out Summer Crush, as you will meet those characters again. However, having read those is not necessary to love Summer Crush!

Also check out:
More info about the book
Writing advice from all three authors

Anything You Can Do: My Review

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Finally, a book review. Considering I read this one back in February, it was long due… Like so many others I will maybe write and post at some point this month. Since I’m in a kind of book slum now, I figured it left me time to actually write reviews for all the books I read in the past two or three months which I hadn’t reviewed yet.

Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Trope: Enemies to lovers
Release: February 2017
Author: R.S. Grey
My rating: ★★★✩✩

Anything You Can Do

The story:

Lucas and Daisy have been neighbours for their entire life – until they moved to college. They have been rivals for their entire life, born a few hours apart, both excellent at school… Until they moved away, to study medicine. Now both of them are coming back to work side by side as doctors, both competing for the same job.

But the situation has changed in ways that Daisy did not expect. Especially when Lucas starts kissing her…

My opinion:

I picked up this book because I have been following the author on instagram for quite some time without actually reading anything of hers. So when I saw this was going to be released, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to pick it up and I did. It’s available on Kindle if you want to read it as well.

However, I was to say I was a bit disappointed. Overall, I did enjoy it, I just wanted more, expected more of it. Maybe it’s my fault for setting up my expectations too high. Maybe I was not in the right mood when I read it. I don’t know.

I really love the enemies to lover trope, it is honestly something I don’t think I will ever grow tired of. It’s my guilty pleasure I guess. So I did really enjoy this aspect of the novel.

But I often felt it was too slow, and I found the main character, Daisy, extremely frustrating. She failed to notice so many obvious things, damnit… I don’t want to say anymore because this is a spoilerfree review, but come on. She was a strong character in her own way, but she could also really be frustrating.

That being said, I really liked Lucas’ character. I thought he was much more likeable and patient than Daisy, though he too could be frustrating at some point.

Overall, the story was a bit predictable, but hey, it was obvious from the beginning. When you go into this kind of books, you know more or less how it will turn out in the end, and I will not complain about this. Anything you can do is a quick read and a no-brainer, so if that’s what you’re looking for, and if you like hate to love relationships, then this is definitely something you will enjoy.

Similar novels I can recommend:
* Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. It’s a modern Pride and Prejudice retelling, you can check out my review here.
The 100 by Kass Morgan also has a hate to love relationship though in a very different context.

*

Please feel free to share your opinion in the comments, and maybe point out things I didn’t notice, I would love to discuss in the comments!

The Song of Achilles: My Review

The Song of Achilles

I read The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller back in December and it was really time I made my review for this book. It had been on my TBR for a very long time, so I’m glad I finally picked it up. I listened to the audiobook, and I really enjoyed the narration, so if you are looking for audiobooks I would definitely recommend this one.

Genre: New Adult, Mythology, Fantasy, Retelling
My rating: 3,5 stars
Release date: September 2011

The story:

Set before and during the Trojan War, The Song of Achilles follows the famous Greek hero Achilles, through the eyes of his companion, best friend and lover Patroclus, a fallen prince who has no desire to fight. Achilles is the son of a nymph and a mortal king, and it has been prophesized that he will either die young in battle and fame, or live long and be forgotten. Achilles is strong, handsome, and the best warrior of his time. When Agamemnon calls all Greece for the Trojan War, he is reluctant to go at first, but finally gives in, running straight to his destiny.

My thoughts:

My first thought on this book was that the story is extremely beautiful and moving, and the writing is excellent. I know the story of the Trojan War, so I obviously guessed how this book would end, yet it was full of so many little details that made it definitely worth the read. Patroclus is an amazing, caring, and unique narrator, and it was definitely interesting to read about Achilles through his point of view.

My only regret is that I often felt that the story was a bit slow, however, it also turned out that the slow pace gave a unique atmosphere to the book, which was extremely fitting.

Overall, a very good retelling and a very enjoyable read. I wish that I could say more about it, but I feel like it left me impressed and speechless… I will definitely be looking for more Greek mythology retellings as I always end up really liking those.

Warning:

And first of all, thanks Diana for explaining this to me. Now that I know it, it is quite obvious. This book is a very good example of a very bad trope: the kill your gays trope. Of course it can be argued that this retelling is only following the original story. But it is still part of a trope that can be very harmful, and I couldn’t write this review without mentioning it.

Recommended for:

Mythology and retellings lover.

If you liked it, then I would recommend Song of Princes by Jannell Rhiannon! (review)

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this book in the comments as I would love to discuss it!

Mumbo Jumbo: Short Review

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Hi readers! I am here today with the review of another diverse book, that was recommended by one of my professors. This book is called Mumbo Jumbo and it was written by Ishmael Reed in 1971.

Goodreads summary:

Mumbo Jumbo is Ishmael Reed’s brilliantly satiric deconstruction of Western civilization, a racy and uproarious commentary on our society. In it, Reed, one of our preeminent African-American authors, mixes portraits of historical figures and fictional characters with sound bites on subjects ranging from ragtime to Greek philosophy. Cited by literary critic Harold Bloom as one of the five hundred most significant books in the Western canon, Mumbo Jumbo is a trenchant and often biting look at black-white relations throughout history, from a keen observer of our culture.

My rating: ★★✩✩✩

My opinion:

I have to say, I was puzzled, confused and slightly disappointed by this book. Most of the time, if I have to be honest, I have to admit I didn’t really understand what was going on, or what was the point of the whole story.

It was an interesting book, I think, but it was too confusing. I felt there was too many characters, and too many stories going on at the same time. I really wanted to appreciate Reed’s clever work, but I guess it was not my cup of tea. Or maybe I was not in the right mood for this book, which is possible as well.

I didn’t really care what would happen in the end, and almost dropped the book, though at the beginning, I was rather excited about it (I reread some notes I made, and my rating at the beginning was four stars). For some reason I can’t really point out, it went downhill, and I can’t figure out how to review this book, though I still wanted to mention it on the blog.

If you have read it, I am really interested in your thoughts and feelings on this book!

Recommended for:

People interested in African American literature, and diverse books.

In the United States of Africa: Short Review

In the United States of Africa

Author: Abdourahman Waberi
Original publication: 2006
Genre: Fiction, African Literature
My rating: ★★★✩✩

The story:

In a text that seems to be a mix between fiction and essay, Abdourahman Waberi depicts a world where Africa is a powerful, rich, united country, while the rest of the world is going havoc because of wars and illnesses. In the midst of this, a young girl, Malaïka, who comes from the French countryside and was adopted by a rich African doctor, is raised as the only white child of the neighborhood. She grew up to become an artist, and tries to go on a trip back to France, to find out her origins, and why her birth mother abandoned her.

My opinion:

The first thing that I wanted to say is that I had to read this book for one of my classes, because the author is actually one of my professors for this semester (I feel so lucky, I wanted to brag about it).

The second things is, I have to admit this book is extremely clever and smart. It is full of witty remarks and comments which I really appreciated. The original idea was a very good one, no one can deny it. (It briefly reminded me of Noughts and Crosses, because it depicts a world where Blacks are in position of power whereas Whites are poor, and it’s the first time I find something like that ever since I read it… Which was ages ago since I was in middle school and am now doing my Master, but anyway, back to the topic.) In the United States of Africa was a beautiful story, however I found it a bit difficult to get into it, as much as I wanted to. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wish I had (and I have to say, it is bothering me a bit).

One thing I really liked, however, is all the little references to our world and our history that were twisted and turned to fit in this fantasy world: that was really brilliant, I was looking for those moments throughout the book.

My biggest regret is probably that I didn’t find the main character really endearing, though I can’t quite put my finger on why.

The narration was at the second person, the narrator directly addressing the girl, Malaïka, at the same time as the reader, and this is a procedure I always find very interesting.

Overall, I find it rather hard to put together my thoughts on this book, but I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a diverse read, or a book different from what you usually read and find in bookstores or anywhere on your shelves!

Please leave a comment with your thoughts if you have read this book as well!

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Memoirs of a Porcupine: Short Review

It has been a really long time since I last posted a book review, and I am really sorry about that. I am trying to read as much as I can, as usual, but between my classes and NaNoWriMo, it has been a bit hard since the beginning of this month… Hopefully I can make it up to you before the end of this month!

Memoirs of a Porcupine

Author: Alain Mabanckou
Original publication: 2006
Genre: Fiction, African Culture
My rating: ★★★★✩

The story:

According to an old African legend, every human being has an animal double. Some are harmless, but some are evil.

When he turns 11, young Kibandi is taken into the forrest by his father, who forces him to drink a strange potion. That is his initiation. From then on, he will be accompanied through his life by a porcupine double (the narrator of the story). He soon discovers the use of his animal double, and starts killing people, for revenge, because they annoyed him, or just for the sake of killing…

Memoirs of a Porcupine is a dark and fascinating tale which will take you into a world you most likely ignored until now, and it is a book you will never forget.

My opinion:

A beautiful, poetic and original book. The narration is really captivating, and this book is rather easy to read. It is supposedly narrated by a porcupine, who makes sentences without caps or points, and that makes the book really hard to put down.

I really felt that this book was unique. I actually picked it up because I am studying it for one of my classes, and I am so glad I discovered this author. This book is like nothing I have ever read.

Mabanckou was born in the Republic of Congo, and he writes in French. He is also a Literature Professor in the US. His book Memoirs of a Porcupine has won the French literary prize Prix Renaudot (which, according to Goodreads, is the equivalent of the National Book Award).

If you are looking for diverse, original, and different books, then this is definitely something I would recommend!