Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

March 20, 2018
The Hate U Give,  Angie Thomas, Book Review, InToriLexPublished By: Balzer + Bray on February 28, 2017
Format Read: Hardcover Edition (447 pages)
Genre: Young Adult/ Contemporary/ Race
Series: Stand Alone
Source: Purchased

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.



This book reminded me of a story being told by my family around the kitchen table. It was memorable, important and reached the perfect tone for teen readers. Starr is a courageous young girl learning to navigate the poor neighborhood she's from and the private high school she attends. After she witnesses the death of her childhood friend Khalil, she has to face the trauma of what happens and how her community deals with it.  Starr struggles to figure out what it means to be black and live in a world where that means far more then it should.
"The truth casts a shadow over the kitchen--people like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice. I think we all wait for that one time though, that one time when it ends right."
Starr balances two worlds learning how to act around her two sets of friends, while trying to stay true to her self. Growing up in a community with little resources your morality reflects the limited choices that you are allowed to make. Police keep marginalized communities in a state of fear. No one should have to guess whether or not they will survive an encounter with the police. This book realistically portrays the unjust responses that have followed police officers killing young black men. It's a relevant story for our time that encourages teens to stand up against the injustice that they see around them.
"...they either spend most of their life in prison, another billion dollar industry or they have a hard time getting a real job and probably start selling drugs again. That's the hate they're giving us, baby, a system designed against us."
Starr learns how to stand up for herself and confront the issues around her, while we are introduced to the memorable characters that make up her family. Starr's parents provide the best life for their kids but find ways to continue to help the community they are from. The character development was great everyone was described vividly, and stood out as distinct personalities. I was engaged with every pages while reading and I know most people will be too.

Recommended for: 
-readers who enjoy learning more about inner city life
-readers who want to think about more deeply about race
-readers who enjoy character driven stories about present day issues


Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Meyers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, was acquired by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in a 13-house auction and will be published in spring 2017. Film rights have been optioned by Fox 2000 with George Tillman attached to direct and Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg set to star.

Book Scoop March 9- March 17, 2018

March 17, 2018
Book Scoop, Weekly Feature, InToriLex, Book News
Book Industry News, Links & New Book Releases
Happy St. Patrick's Day



Apocalypse Child: A Life in End Times by Flor Edwards
Apocalypse Child: A Life in End Times, Flor Edwards, InToriLex
Apocalypse Child: A Life in End Times
For the first thirteen years of her life, Flor Edwards grew up in the confines of a religious sect know as the Children of God, an outgrowth of 1960s counterculture founded in California in 1968. The group's nomadic existence was based on the belief that, as God's chosen people, they would be saved in the impending apocalypse that would envelop the rest of the world in 1993. Flor and Tamar would be 12 years old. The group's charismatic leader, Father David, kept the family on the move, from Los Angeles to Bangkok to Chicago, where the group would eventually disband, leaving the Edwards sisters to make sense of the foreign world of mainstream society around them on their own. Apocalypse Child is a cathatic journey through Flor's memories of growing up within a group with unconventional views on education, religion, and sex. Whimsically referring to herself as a real life Kimmy Schmidt, Edward's clear-eyed memoir is a story of survival in a childhood lived on the fringes.
Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad by Krystal A. Sital 
Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad, Krystal A. Sital, InToriLex
Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad
There, in a lush landscape of fire-petaled immortelle trees and vast plantations of coffee and cocoa, where the three hills along the southern coast act as guardians against hurricanes, Krystal A. Sital grew up idolizing her grandfather, a wealthy Hindu landowner. Years later, to escape crime and economic stagnation on the island, the family resettled in New Jersey, where Krystal’s mother works as a nanny, and the warmth of Trinidad seems a pretty yet distant memory. But when her grandfather lapses into a coma after a fall at home, the women he has terrorized for decades begin to speak, and a brutal past comes to light.

In the lyrical patois of her mother and grandmother, Krystal learns the long-held secrets of their family’s past, and what it took for her foremothers to survive and find strength in themselves. The relief of sharing their stories draws the three women closer, the music of their voices and care for one another easing the pain of memory.

Violence, a rigid ethnic and racial caste system, and a tolerance of domestic abuse—the harsh legacies of plantation slavery—permeate the history of Trinidad. On the island’s plantations, in its growing cities, and in the family’s new home in America, Secrets We Kept tells a story of ambition and cruelty, endurance and love, and most of all, the bonds among women and between generations that help them find peace with the past.
Obsidio, The Illuminar Files #3, amie Kaufman, Jay KristoffObsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff 
Obsidio (The Illuminae Files, #3)
Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they'll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady's cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza's ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha's past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.
Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
Sometimes I Lie
My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it's the truth?
Did I miss anything in the book world? Let me know in the comments below

Review: There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker

March 12, 2018
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, Morgan Parker
Published By: Tin House Books on February 14, 2017
Format Read: Paperback Edition (81 pages)
Genre: Poetry /Non-fiction /Race
Series: Stand alone
Source: Purchased
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé uses political and pop-cultural references as a framework to explore 21st century black American womanhood and its complexities: performance, depression, isolation, exoticism, racism, femininity, and politics. The poems weave between personal narrative and pop-cultural criticism, examining and confronting modern media, consumption, feminism, and Blackness. This collection explores femininity and race in the contemporary American political climate, folding in references from jazz standards, visual art, personal family history, and Hip Hop. The voice of this book is a multifarious one: writing and rewriting bodies, stories, and histories of the past, as well as uttering and bearing witness to the truth of the present, and actively probing toward a new self, an actualized self. This is a book at the intersections of mythology and sorrow, of vulnerability and posturing, of desire and disgust, of tragedy and excellence.



I wanted to love this collection more than I did. I thought from the title Beyonce would be used as a launching pad to reference the problematic ways women exist in media. This isn't a rebuke of Beyonce which the title hints at. This book used Beyonce and other pop culture references, in a way that didn't resonate with me. I wasn't familiar with some of the references, but the ones I recognized didn't make sense in the context.

The poems centered around race and womanhood were thought provoking. However none of the language resonated with me in a emotional way. It's hard for me to pin point what I didn't enjoy in this poetry collection. The way people experience poetry is subjective and personal. So my opinion will certainly differ from other readers. The topics and stories told in these poems were important and reflective. We need more poets addressing issues of black womanhood. I enjoyed some of the poems but wished I was more drawn in and connected to others.

Recommended for Readers Who
-enjoy modern poetry
-appreciate thoughts on race and womanhood
-resonate with pop culture references


Morgan Parker is the author of Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night (Switchback Books 2015), selected by Eileen Myles for the 2013 Gatewood Prize. Her second collection, There Are More Beautiful things than Beyonce, is forthcoming from Tin House Books in February 2017. Morgan received her Bachelors in Anthropology and Creative Writing from Columbia University and her MFA in Poetry from NYU. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in numerous publications, as well as anthologized in Why I Am Not A Painter (Argos Books) and The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop (Haymarket Books). She has done editorial work for Apogee Journal, No, Dear Magazine, and The Atlas Review. Winner of a 2016 Pushcart Prize and a Cave Canem graduate fellow, Morgan lives with her dog Braeburn in Brooklyn, NY. She works as an Editor for Amazon Publishing's imprint Little A, and moonlights as poetry editor of The Offing. She also teaches Creative Writing at Columbia University and co-curates the Poets With Attitude (PWA) reading series with Tommy Pico. With poet and performer Angel Nafis, she is The Other Black Girl Collective. She is a Sagittarius.

Book Scoop March 2- March 9, 2018

March 9, 2018
Book Scoop, Book News, Weekly Feature, InToriLex
Book Industry News, Links & New Book Releases
 Happy Women's History Month 

Inkmistress (Of Fire and Stars #0.5)
A sweeping, action-packed, and romantic fantasy full of dangerous magic and dark choices, perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce and Kristin Cashore—set in the same world as Of Fire and Stars.

Asra is a demigod with a dangerous gift: the ability to dictate the future by writing with her blood. To keep her power secret, she leads a quiet life as a healer on a remote mountain, content to help the people in her care and spend time with Ina, the mortal girl she loves.

But Asra’s peaceful life is upended when bandits threaten Ina’s village and the king does nothing to help. Desperate to protect her people, Ina begs Asra for assistance in finding her manifest—the animal she’ll be able to change into as her rite of passage to adulthood. Asra uses her blood magic to help Ina, but her spell goes horribly wrong and the bandits destroy the village, killing Ina’s family.

Unaware that Asra is at fault, Ina swears revenge on the king and takes a savage dragon as her manifest. To stop her, Asra must embark on a journey across the kingdom, becoming a player in lethal games of power among assassins, gods, and even the king himself.

Most frightening of all, she discovers the dark secrets of her own mysterious history—and the terrible, powerful legacy she carries in her blood.
Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan
Rainbirds, Clarissa Goenawan, InToriLex
Clarissa Goenawan’s dark, spellbinding literary debut opens with a murder and shines a spotlight onto life in fictional small-town Japan.

Ren Ishida is nearly finished with graduate school when he receives news of his sister Keiko's sudden death. She was viciously stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister's affairs, still failing to understand why she chose to abandon the family and Tokyo for this desolate town years ago.

But Ren soon finds himself picking up where Keiko left off, accepting both her teaching position at a local cram school and the bizarre arrangement of free lodging at a wealthy politician’s mansion in exchange for reading to the man’s catatonic wife.

As he comes to know the figures in Akakawa, from the enigmatic politician to his fellow teachers and a rebellious, alluring student named Rio, Ren delves into his shared childhood with Keiko and what followed, trying to piece together what happened the night of her death. Haunted in his dreams by a young girl who is desperately trying to tell him something, Ren struggles to find solace in the void his sister has left behind.
The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk
The Beauty That Remains, Ashley Woodfolk, InToriLex
The Beauty That Remains
Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death wants to tear them apart.

Autumn always knew exactly who she was—a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band's music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.
Speak No Evil: A Novel by Uzodinma Iweala
Speak No Evil, Uzodinma Iweala, InToriLex
Speak No Evil: A Novel
 In the long-anticipated novel from the author of the critically acclaimed Beasts of No Nation, a revelation shared between two privileged teenagers from very different backgrounds sets off a chain of events with devastating consequences

On the surface, Niru leads a charmed life. Raised by two attentive parents in Washington, D.C., he’s a top student and a track star at his prestigious private high school. Bound for Harvard in the fall, his prospects are bright. But Niru has a painful secret: he is queer—an abominable sin to his conservative Nigerian parents. No one knows except Meredith, his best friend, the daughter of prominent Washington insiders—and the one person who seems not to judge him.

When his father accidentally discovers Niru is gay, the fallout is brutal and swift. Coping with troubles of her own, however, Meredith finds that she has little left emotionally to offer him. As the two friends struggle to reconcile their desires against the expectations and institutions that seek to define them, they find themselves speeding toward a future more violent and senseless than they can imagine. Neither will escape unscathed.

In the tradition of Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, Speak No Evil explores what it means to be different in a fundamentally conformist society and how that difference plays out in our inner and outer struggles. It is a novel about the power of words and self-identification, about who gets to speak and who has the power to speak for other people. As heart-wrenching and timely as his breakout debut, Beasts of No Nation, Uzodinma Iweala’s new novel cuts to the core of our humanity and leaves us reeling in its wake.
Did I miss anything in the book world? Let me know in the comments below

Review: Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

March 8, 2018
Love Medicine, Louise Erdrich, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Harper Perennial Modern Classic on August 2, 2005 (first published 1984)
Format Read:  Paperback Edition (367pages)
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Contemporary/ Adult
Series: Stand Alone
Source:  Boston Intersectional Feminist Book Club Pick
Love Medicine
Set on and around a North Dakota Ojibwe reservation, Love Medicine—the first novel by bestselling, National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich—is the epic story about the intertwined fates of two families: the Kashpaws and the Lamartines.

With astonishing virtuosity, each chapter draws on a range of voices to limn its tales. Black humor mingles with magic, injustice bleeds into betrayal, and through it all, bonds of love and family marry the elements into a tightly woven whole that pulses with the drama of life.

Filled with humor, magic, injustice and betrayal, Erdrich blends family love and loyalty in a stunning work of dramatic fiction.


Trigger Warning:
 Rape, Mental Illness and Substance Abuse


This is a memorable family saga that depicts the many hardships Native American Families have faced. This novel follows the Kapshaw and Nanapush families over from the 1930's to the 1980's. Nector Kapshaw binds two families together because he maintains an affair with a woman while married. Both women love him despite of it. This book describes the family drama, tragedy and alcoholism that afflicts members of the family. Each character shared a unique and engaging glimpse into their lives. The character development was phenomenal and interspersed with vivid imagery and prose.
"Rushes Bear always said that a man has to enter and enter, repeatedly, as if in punishment for having ever left the woman's body."
Despite the heartbreaking experiences characters face their reverence to nature and distrust of white people was well founded. The women in this book are not passive observers to the addiction and infidelity around them. They hold their families together, acknowledging the bad but still finding ways to love and care for the family around them. Since there is rampant infidelity many of the families on the reservation are loosely related.The reservation itself is a community that relies on each other.
What aggravates them is I've never shed one solitary tear. I'm not sorry. That's unnatural. As we all know, a woman is supposed to cry.
The Native Americans beliefs and traditions were well described.I'm excited to read more books from this author in the future to learn more about the Native American way of life. It's important to remember the issues that continue to plague Native American reservations. This story enabled me to engage with the realities of poverty and frequent alcoholism in a memorable way. I was frequently emotional over what was being described, but I happily ravished this book. The writing was lyrical thought provoking and amazing overall.

Recommended For Readers:
-who enjoy family sagas
-who want to learn more about Native American Communities
-who enjoy emotionally charged contemporaries


Louise Erdrich is the author of fifteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, children’s books, short stories, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel The Round House won the National Book Award for Fiction. The Plague of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her debut novel, Love Medicine, was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Erdrich has received the Library of Congress Prize in American Fiction, the prestigious PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore.

Review: Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

March 6, 2018
Girls Burn Brighter, Shobha Ra, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Flatiron Books on March 6, 2018
Format Read: ARC Edition (306 pages)
Genre: Contemporary/ Adult Fiction/ India
Series: Stand Alone
Source: Giveaway Win
Girls Burn Brighter
A searing, electrifying debut novel set in India and America, about a once-in-a-lifetime friendship between two girls who are driven apart but never stop trying to find one another again.

When Poornima first meets Savitha, she feels something she thought she lost for good when her mother died: hope. Poornima's father hires Savitha to work one of their sari looms, and the two girls are quickly drawn to one another. Savitha is even more impoverished than Poornima, but she is full of passion and energy. She shows Poornima how to find beauty in a bolt of indigo cloth, a bowl of yogurt rice and bananas, the warmth of friendship. Suddenly their Indian village doesn't feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond the arranged marriage her father is desperate to lock down for her. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend again. Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India's underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face relentless obstacles, Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within them.

In breathtaking prose, Shobha Rao tackles the most urgent issues facing women today: domestic abuse, human trafficking, immigration, and feminism. At once a propulsive page-turner and a heart-wrenching meditation on friendship, Rao's debut novel is a literary tour de force.


Trigger Warning:
Rape, Physical & Sexual Abuse


This book broke my heart into crumbs and I'm still sweeping pieces of it off the ground. Poornima and Savitha find ways to hold onto each other in a country that considers their existence a burden.They are both born poor and given few opportunities. In India a girls humanity is measured by her utility. Despite this Poornima and Savitha build their friendship on trust and awe. Their love for each other empowers them to keep going, even when they are physically distant and mentally fleeting. Passages of this book felt like kicks in the rib. But I read through all of the heartache eagerly because of the gorgeous writing unforgettable characters.
"But what about love?"
"What is love, Poori?" Savitha said. What is love if not a hunger?
Though the alternating perspectives both women gave me intimate access into their hearts, this kind of character development is magic. The women in this book experience every kind of cruel and harsh  abuse. Their experiences aren't deserved but it's important that readers understand that this happens all the time. Through prisms of poverty I was led into desperate lives, that so many of us forget exist. This book challenges us to look at what women are able to endure and find the beauty in their journey.
"What it wanted was to reveal to me that there is no end to guilt, no end to the prices we pay, that we are the forest, and our conscience, our hell, is the forest floor."
I finished this book in emotional ruin. I learned about India, poverty and friendship in a way that will stay with me for a long time. Savitha and Poornima burn bright with the kind of love and hope that I want to carry in myself. This is a bleak book but the harshness allowed the reader to cut through any self delusion. The only reason this isn't a five star book for me is because everything wasn't quite pulled together in the end,  the way I would have preferred. Nonetheless I am excited to read more from this author and be inspired by what other stories she has to share.
"What fools we all are. We girls. Afraid of the wrong things, at the wrong times."
Recommended for Readers:
-who want to be immersed in another culture
-enjoy empowering stories about women
-enjoy heart wrenching contemporaries


SHOBHA RAO moved to the United States from India at the age of seven. She is the winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction, and her story “Kavitha and Mustafa” was chosen by T.C. Boyle for inclusion in Best American Short Stories 2015. She is the author of the short story collection, AN UNRESTORED WOMAN, and the novel, GIRLS BURN BRIGHTER. She lives in San Francisco.
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