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BLOG TOUR Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

February 27, 2018
The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo, Book Review, InToriLex Published By: HarperTeen on March 6, 2018
Format Read: ARC Kindle Edition (368 pages)
Genre: Poetry/ Young Adult/ Contemporary
Series: Stand Alone
Source: Blog Tour
Rating: FIVE STARS

~Amazon~
A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.
Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

VERDICT:

 REVIEW:

I absolutely loved this book. Xiomara (See-O- Mara) describes growing up in a body that has developed without her permission, in a strict religious household. Like many young girls Xiomara is given unwanted attention by leering men wherever she goes. Her mother  wants her to act and believe in what she did when she was young . Xiomara uses her writing and creativity to figure out what she wants and how to express it. Xiomara questions what she has been taught in church and what she should be expected to be for everyone else. The author found a way to describe her curiosities in a relateable way.
Maybe, the only thing that has to make sense
about  being somebody's friends is that you help
them be their best selves on any given day.
That you give them a home
when they don't want to be in their own 
This is a novel written in verse, but it was not too rhyme-y and flowed well. Xiomara's relationship with her boyfriend Aman included the right amount of angst and tension that all teenagers feel when they're driven by hormones. Xiomara relates well to her twin brother Xavier, although they have different strengths. While Xavier is introverted and small in stature, Xiomara is his champion because of her size and courage to stand up to whoever stands against her. She slowly learns what she wants and goes after it, despite what anyone else thinks. The character development helped me connect with the story and I became emotionally invested in what happens.
And the words I never say are better left on
my tongue since they would only have
slammed against the closed door of your back
The use of Spanish throughout the book was great. The phrases used were translated and reminded the reader of Xiomara's cultural identity. Reading about a Dominican teenager coming of age was refreshing because too few young adult books focus on people of color. You can tell the author wrote from what she knew, the situations and humor shared between the characters was genuine.  Even Xiomara's name forces the reader to get uncomfortable and quickly adjust to something new. I would recommend this to reader's who enjoy coming of age stories with unshakeable female characters and problematic family dynamics.

I received this e-book from HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review.

GIVEAWAY

WIN A COPY BY ENTERING HERE!
This giveaway is sponsored by HarperCollins International. It runs from February 26th to March 26th. No purchase necessary. The winner must reply to email within 48 hours. Open internationally.

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ELIZABETH ACEVEDO is the youngest child and only daughter of Dominican immigrants. She holds a BA in Performing Arts from the George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. With over fourteen years of performance poetry experience, Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam Champion, Cave Canem Fellow, CantoMundo Fellow, and participant of the Callaloo Writer's Workshop. She has two collections of poetry, Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (YesYes Books, 2016) and winner of the 2016 Berkshire Prize, Medusa Reads La Negra’s Palm (Tupelo Press, forthcoming). The Poet X is her debut novel. She lives with her partner in Washington, DC.



Week 1
February 26
Afire Pages – Author Guest Post | Top 5 Poetry Influences
February 27
February 28
March 1
Stay BookishArt
March 2
Week 2
March 5
March 6
March 7
March 8
A Book and a Cup of CoffeeOn Latinx Rep in YA
March 9
Week 3
March 12
WOC ReadsAuthor Q&A
March 13
March 14
Dani Review ThingsFavorite Slam Poetry Performance
March 15
The Cursed BooksMood Board
March 16
*All blog tour stops contains a review.


 
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Review: Drapetomania: "All of the Ways In Which I Am Black" by Sami Arlenis-Frederick

February 26, 2018
Drapetomania: All of the Ways In Which I Am Black, Sami Arlenis-Frederick, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: CreateSpace on August 29, 2017
Format Read: Kindle Edition (102 pages)
Genre: Poetry/ Contemporary/ Own Voices
Series: Stand Alone
Source: Author Request
Rating: FOUR  STARS
Drapetomania: "All of the Ways In Which I Am Black"
~Amazon~
In 1851, American physician Samuel A. Cartwright determined the negro slave’s desire to flee captivity was due to a mental illness in which he titled Drapetomania. This collection of paper poems titled of the same name is black life on an anthology of white pieces of paper. These words capture the backbone of a culture and the liberation of a people.

 VERDICT:







REVIEW:

This was a great collection of poems exploring how African Americans experience, joy, pain and everyday life. It features poem about family bonds, self destruction and ruminations on the injustice that so many people have experienced.
 "we have lost so many things to so many fires"
I enjoyed the illustrations included as well as the various formats and titles included with the poems.  There are not enough poems out there that could tackle all of the pain and grief that so many black people in our country feel, because of racism. It describes poverty, street life and family dynamics that reflected my own.
"our poems are not our self-expression they are out self-defense"
This collection sets the atmosphere of someone sharing stories and laughter at a kitchen table. It was a great experience that reflects the harsh and unjust experiences that marginalized communities face. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy poetry that reflects on black culture and challenge readers to expand their own perspective and understanding.

I received a free e-book from this author in exchange for an honest review. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 Sami Arlenis- Frederick is a self published poet.
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Book Scoop February 16- February 23, 2018

February 23, 2018


BOOK RELEASES

The Clarity by Keith Thomas The Clarity, Keith Thomas, InToriLex
The Clarity
~Amazon~
Dr. Matilda Deacon is a psychologist researching how memories are made and stored when she meets a strange eleven-year-old girl named Ashanique. Ashanique claims to harbor the memories of the last soldier killed in World War I and Matilda is at first very interested but skeptical. However, when Ashanique starts talking about being chased by the Night Doctors—a term also used by an unstable patient who was later found dead—Matilda can’t deny that the girl might be telling the truth.

Matilda learns that Ashanique and her mother have been on the run their whole lives from a monstrous assassin named Rade. Rade is after a secret contained solely in memories and has left a bloody trail throughout the world in search of it. Matilda soon realizes Ashanique is in unimaginable danger and that her unique ability comes with a deadly price.
What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper 
What the Night Sings, Vesper Stamper, InToriLex
What the Night Sings
~Amazon~
 After losing her family and everything she knew in the Nazi concentration camps, Gerta is finally liberated, only to find herself completely alone. Without her Papa, her music, or even her true identity, she must move past the task of surviving and onto living her life. In the displaced persons camp where she is staying, Gerta meets Lev, a fellow teen survivor who she just might be falling for, despite her feelings for someone else. With a newfound Jewish identity she never knew she had, and a return to the life of music she thought she lost forever, Gerta must choose how to build a new future.
Sunburn by Laura Lippman
Sunburn, Laura Lippman, InToriLex
Sunburn
One is playing a long game. But which one?

They meet at a local tavern in the small town of Belleville, Delaware. Polly is set on heading west. Adam says he’s also passing through.

Yet she stays and he stays—drawn to this mysterious redhead whose quiet stillness both unnerves and excites him. Over the course of a punishing summer, Polly and Adam abandon themselves to a steamy, inexorable affair. Still, each holds something back from the other—dangerous, even lethal, secrets that begin to accumulate as autumn approaches, feeding the growing doubts they conceal.

Then someone dies. Was it an accident, or part of a plan? By now, Adam and Polly are so ensnared in each other’s lives and lies that neither one knows how to get away—or even if they want to. Is their love strong enough to withstand the truth, or will it ultimately destroy them?

Something—or someone—has to give.

Which one will it be?
Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson 
Rosie Colored Glasses, Brianna Wolfson, InToriLex
Sometimes even all the love in the world is not enough to save someone.

Willow Thorpe knows friction… The friction between her parents, Rosie and Rex. The friction inside herself as she tries to navigate two worlds since their divorce.

But life has not always been like this.

When Rosie and Rex first met, theirs was an attraction of opposites. Rosie lived life for those heightened moments when love reveals its true secrets. Rex lived life safely, by the rules. Common sense would say theirs was a union not meant to last, but it was genuine love.

Now Willow just wants to be with Rosie, to bask in her mother’s outsize glow and, she thinks, protection. Because Rosie is the only person who can make Willow feel totally alive and completely loved.

But as Willow and Rosie and Rex try harder and harder to stay connected as a family, Rosie’s manic tornado of love continues to sweep up everyone in sight, ultimately to heartbreaking results.

Did I miss anything in the book world? Let me know in the comments below
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Review: The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

The Wife Between Us, Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen, Book Review, InToriLex Published By: St. Martin's Press on January 9, 2018
Format Read: ARC Edition (343 pages)
Genre: Thriller/ Contemporary/ Mystery
Series: Stand Alone
Source: Giveaway Win
Rating: TWO POINT FIVE STARS
The Wife Between Us
~Amazon~
When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.

You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife. You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love. You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.

Assume nothing.

Twisted and deliciously chilling, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen's The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage - and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

Read between the lies.

VERDICT:

REVIEW:

My high expectations for this book didn't last long. This is a contemporary with a identity crisis.  The book wants to be a winding and twisting thriller but it's not. The only developed character in this book is the protagonist Vanessa who is trying to stop her ex husband Richard from marrying again. But even her background is weaved between red herrings and situations that add nothing to the narrative. She never became likeable. Every hardship Vanessa faced was quickly erased by her access to money and people willing to help her. This read like a primer on how you can get through horrible situations as a white woman with money.

The book alternates perspectives between Vanessa and her husband's new fiance Nellie. Vanessa is a unreliable narrator so as the book goes on you began  to figure out what's true for yourself. Once the curtain lifts and the mystery is revealed, the intrigue in the story falls away. The short chapter structure and momentum kept me reading, but begrudgingly. I can't reveal much else without giving spoilers.

The diversity in this book seemed tacked on. Nellie has a roommate named Sam who is biracial. That is the beginning and end of how her identity is described. All of the main characters in this book are white, rich and unrelatable. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy contemporary stories. The positive reviews for this book show other readers have found the writing more compelling.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Greer Hendricks spent over two decades as an editor. Her writing has been published in The New York Times and Publishers Weekly. The Wife Between Us is her first novel.
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Website
Sarah Pekannen is the mother of three young boys, which explains why she writes part of her novels at Chuck E. Cheese. Sarah penned her first book, Miscellaneous Tales and Poems, at the age of 10. When publishers failed to jump upon this literary masterpiece (hey, all the poems rhymed!) Sarah followed up by sending them a sternly-worded letter on Raggedy Ann stationery. Sarah still has that letter, and carries it to New York every time she has meetings with her publisher, as a reminder that dreams do come true.
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Review: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

February 21, 2018
Sing Unburied Sing, Jesmyn Ward, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Scribner on September 5, 2017
Format Read: Hard Cover Edition (285 pages)
Genre: Adult/ Magical Realism / African American Fiction
Series: Stand alone
Source: Purchased
Rating: FIVE STARS
Sing, Unburied, Sing
~Amazon~
An intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle, Sing, Unburied, Sing examines the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power – and limitations – of family bonds.

Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. His mother, Leonie, is in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is black and her children’s father is white. Embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances, she wants to be a better mother, but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use.

When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.

Rich with Ward’s distinctive, lyrical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first century America. It is a majestic new work from an extraordinary and singular author. 

VERDICT:

REVIEW:

This is a book I cannot get out my head. It follows Jojo a young boy coping with parents who can hardly take care of themselves. Jojo's grandfather steps in to parent him and his younger sister the best way he ca. Although he grapples with his own trauma. The characters in this book jump off the page. The intensity and honesty used to describe this family was overwhelming. I had to step away from reading and get my life in order to pick it up again. This book describes drug use, child neglect, cancer and a stifling prison. It's all ugly but describes the realities many black families have had to cope with over time.
"Some days later, I understood what he was trying to say, that getting grown means learning how to work that current: learning when to hold fast, when to drop anchor, when to let it sweep you up."
The lyrical prose sets a surreal atmosphere so the reader feels like a reluctant observer that can't look away. The magical realism elements in this book enabled Jojo to confront the many sources of trauma  his family has. Jojo's grandfather described how his time in prison has shaped his life. The prison conditions described in the book were shocking and brutal. Men were worked to the bone and half starved for years. Jojo has to grow up fast and become hyper aware of how to act and hold himself in through uncomfortable situations in this book. Throughout horrific racist injustice this family survived to make a life for themselves. But they didn't make it through unscathed.
This the kind of world, Mama told me when I got my period when I was twelve, that makes fools of the living and saints of them once they dead. And devils of them throughout. 
The narrative alternated from Jojo's and Leonie's perspectives. Leonie's life story does shed light on what led to her drug use. But I was never able to fully empathize with Leonie despite the many complicated reasons she was unable to nurture her children. This book struck  me emotionally because I also had a mother who was unable to parent because of drug use. The metamorphosis of the characters was subtle but the ending gave some hopeful clues that the future for this family may not be as bleak at this book. I would recommend this to everyone because the topics and issues covered are relatable, profound and ongoing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 Jesmyn Ward is the author of Where the Line Bleeds, Salvage the Bones, and Men We Reaped. She is a former Stegner Fellow (Stanford University) and Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. She is an associate professor of Creative Writing at Tulane University.

Her work has appeared in BOMB, A Public Space and The Oxford American.

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