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Review: Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

September 18, 2018
Fruit of the Drunken Tree, Ingrid Rojas Contreras, InToriLex
Published By: Doubleday on July 31, 2018
Format Read: ARC Edition (304 pages)
Genre: Historical Fiction /Literary Fiction/ Own Voices
Series: Stand Alone
Source: Requested from Publisher
Rating: THREE POINT FIVE STARS
Fruit of the Drunken Tree
~Amazon~ 
In the vein of Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a mesmerizing debut set against the backdrop of the devastating violence of 1990's Colombia about a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid who strike an unlikely friendship that threatens to undo them both.

The Santiago family lives in a gated community in Bogotá, safe from the political upheaval terrorizing the country. Seven-year-old Chula and her older sister Cassandra enjoy carefree lives thanks to this protective bubble, but the threat of kidnappings, car bombs, and assassinations hover just outside the neighborhood walls, where the godlike drug lord Pablo Escobar continues to elude authorities and capture the attention of the nation.

When their mother hires Petrona, a live-in-maid from the city's guerrilla-occupied slum, Chula makes it her mission to understand Petrona's mysterious ways. But Petrona's unusual behavior belies more than shyness. She is a young woman crumbling under the burden of providing for her family as the rip tide of first love pulls her in the opposite direction. As both girls' families scramble to maintain stability amidst the rapidly escalating conflict, Petrona and Chula find themselves entangled in a web of secrecy that will force them both to choose between sacrifice and betrayal.

VERDICT:

Content Warning: Rape, Child Soldiers, Disturbing Violent Imagery, Extreme Poverty

REVIEW:

Chula and Petrona are two young girls struggling to grow up in a increasingly dangerous country. Chula and Petrona meet when Petrona is hired to be a maid for Chula's family. The novel is told through Petrona and Chula's point of view. They perspectives worked well, contrasting the very different thoughts and obstacles these young girls faced to survive childhood. The novel details their experiences and the political turmoil involved throughout Columbia in the 90's. The prose was engaging and the author was able to create complex and memorable characters.
We shall eat more and we shall eat less. What at dinner you have fire, for breakfast you'll have water. What is left for time, time will take away. It is only death that doesn't have a remedy.
Many disturbing and unsettling things happen to Chula and Petrona's family and the author does a good job of describing it from a child's point of view. While the characters were described masterfully the plot  did diverge and slow down in unexpected ways. As I was reading I kept hoping that it would all come together, but the ending wasn't that tidy. The diversity and unique voices in the book kept things flowing and me engaged. I learned more about Colombia and Pablo Escobar than I ever have before. Despite the slow parts of the book, I enjoyed it overall and will continue to look for more work by this author.
Multiply me when necessary,
make me disappear
when peremptory.
Transform me into light when there is shadow,
into a star
when in the dessert
Recommended for Readers who
- want to read a coming of age story that explores, race, class and Colombian History
- enjoy reading about characters dealing with serious trauma
- appreciate character driven stories

**I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. **

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ingrid Rojas Contreras, InToriLex
Ingrid Rojas Contreras is an award-winning author who was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. Her essays and short stories have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Electric Literature, Guernica, and Huffington Post, among others. She recently received the Mary Tanenbaum Award for non-fiction, and the Audio Miller Prize from the Missouri Review. She has been a fellow at Bread Loaf Writer's Conference and the San Francisco Writer's Grotto, and has received scholarships and support from VONA, Hedgebrook, The Camargo Foundation, Djerassi Artist Residency Program, and the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture. She is the book columnist for KQED, the Bay Area's NPR affiliate. She currently teaches writing to immigrant high school students as part of a San Francisco Arts Commission initiative bringing artists into public schools.
WEBSITE
TWITTER
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Sunday Post #21 September 16, 2018

September 16, 2018

Sunday Post, InToriLex

Sunday Post is a Book Blog Meme hosted at the Caffeinated Reviewer. It's a post used to summarize what has happened on your blog for the past week, and preview what's next.

LAST WEEK 

BLOG TOUR Review: Dream Country by Shannon Gibney

Book Scoop September 7- September 14, 2018 

COMING SOON

Review: Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Review: Freshwater

Review: Vox by

Book Scoop September 14- September 21, 1018

BOOKS HAULED

Street Freaks, Terry Brooks, InToriLex
Street Freaks by Terry Brooks- This a futuristic thriller from a celebrated fantasy author who is switching over to sci-fi. I'm excited to pick this up.
OUT October 2nd From Grim Oak Press 


Monstress, Vol. 3: Haven, Marjorie M. Liu , Sana Takeda, InToriLex
Monstress, Vol. 3: Haven (Monstress #3) by Marjorie M. Liu (Writer), Sana Takeda (Artist)- I am in love with this comic series, there are talking cats, evil witches, action and political intrigue you should definitely give it a read. This third volume I'm sure won't disappoint.
OUT NOW from Image Comics

LIFE LATELY

I have been overwhelmed with work and personal issues, so I haven't been able to post to my blog much last week.  I need to figure out a working schedule so I can plan ahead more, so that's going to be a goal of mine.

#CurrentlyReading

How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs- This a great short story collection, that explores, race, identity and love with amazing prose, I'm excited to keep reading.

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay- I started listening to this book because of Books and LaLa, an awesome booktuber who really enjoyed it. However I thought it would be a sci-fi read, this is a horror novel. I'm almost done listening to it but the suspense has been enjoyable. 
How did your reading go this week?
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Book Scoop September 7- September 14, 2018

September 14, 2018
Book Scoop, Book News, InToriLex
She Would Be King, Wayetu Moore, InToriLex
She Would Be King
~Amazon~ 
A novel of exhilarating range, magical realism, and history—a dazzling retelling of Liberia’s formation
Wayétu Moore’s powerful debut novel, She Would Be King, reimagines the dramatic story of Liberia’s early years through three unforgettable characters who share an uncommon bond. Gbessa, exiled from the West African village of Lai, is starved, bitten by a viper, and left for dead, but still she survives. June Dey, raised on a plantation in Virginia, hides his unusual strength until a confrontation with the overseer forces him to flee. Norman Aragon, the child of a white British colonizer and a Maroon slave from Jamaica, can fade from sight when the earth calls him. When the three meet in the settlement of Monrovia, their gifts help them salvage the tense relationship between the African American settlers and the indigenous tribes, as a new nation forms around them.
 The Echo Room by Parker Peevyhouse
The Echo Room, Parker Peevyhouse, InToriLex
The Echo Room
 Rett wakes on the floor of a cold, dark room. He doesn’t know how he got there, only that he’s locked in. He’s not alone—a girl named Bryn is trapped in the room with him. When she finds a mysterious bloodstain and decides she doesn’t trust Rett, he tries to escape on his own—

Rett wakes on the floor of the same cold, dark room. He doesn’t trust Bryn, but he’ll have to work with her if he ever hopes to escape. They try to break out of the room—

Rett and Bryn hide in a cold, dark room. Safe from what’s outside.

But they’re not alone. 
Intercepted (Playbook #1) by Alexa Martin 
Intercepted, (Playbook #1), Alexa Martin, InToriLex
Intercepted
Marlee thought she scored the man of her dreams only to be scorched by a bad breakup. But there's a new player on the horizon, and he's in a league of his own...

Marlee Harper is the perfect girlfriend. She's definitely had enough practice by dating her NFL-star boyfriend for the last ten years. But when she discovers he has been tackling other women on the sly, she vows to never date an athlete again. There's just one problem: Gavin Pope, the new hotshot quarterback and a fling from the past, has Marlee in his sights.

Gavin fights to show Marlee he's nothing like her ex. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to let her escape her past. The team's wives, who never led the welcome wagon, are not happy with Marlee's return. They have only one thing on their minds: taking her down. But when the gossip makes Marlee public enemy number one, she worries about more than just her reputation.

Between their own fumbles and the wicked wives, it will take a Hail Mary for Marlee and Gavin's relationship to survive the season.
Rule (Rule #1) by Ellen Goodlett 
Rule, (Rule #1), Ellen Goodlett, InToriLex
Rule
Three girls with three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.

The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.

Or rather, three unexpected options.

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she's already gone.

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady's maid and scheming her way out of the servants' chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she's done.

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny... to rule.

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in this sensational and striking fantasy debut.
Did I miss anything in the book world? Let me know in the comments below
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BLOG TOUR Review: Dream Country by Shannon Gibney

September 13, 2018
Shannon Gibeney, Dream Country, Blog Tour , InToriLex
Shannon Gibney, Dream Country, InToriLex
Published By: Dutton Books for Young Readers on September 11, 2018
Format Read: ARC Edition (337 pages)
Genre: Young Adult/ Historical Fiction/ Own Voices
Series: Stand Alone
Source: Blog Tour/ Publisher
Rating: FOUR STARS
Dream Country
~Amazon~
Dream Country begins in suburban Minneapolis at the moment when seventeen-year-old Kollie Flomo begins to crack under the strain of his life as a Liberian refugee. He's exhausted by being at once too black and not black enough for his African American peers and worn down by the expectations of his own Liberian family and community. When his frustration finally spills into violence and his parents send him back to Monrovia to reform school, the story shifts. Like Kollie, readers travel back to Liberia, but also back in time, to the early twentieth century and the point of view of Togar Somah, an eighteen-year-old indigenous Liberian on the run from government militias that would force him to work the plantations of the Congo people, descendants of the African American slaves who colonized Liberia almost a century earlier. When Togar's section draws to a shocking close, the novel jumps again, back to America in 1827, to the children of Yasmine Wright, who leave a Virginia plantation with their mother for Liberia, where they're promised freedom and a chance at self-determination by the American Colonization Society. The Wrights begin their section by fleeing the whip and by its close, they are then the ones who wield it. With each new section, the novel uncovers fresh hope and resonating heartbreak, all based on historical fact.

In Dream Country, Shannon Gibney spins a riveting tale of the nightmarish spiral of death and exile connecting America and Africa, and of how one determined young dreamer tries to break free and gain control of her destiny.

VERDICT:

 Content Warning: Rape, Substance Abuse, Graphic Violence, Sexually Explicit Language

REVIEW:

This is a unflinching look at the many ways Liberia is tied to African American history. I only knew little about Liberian history and the African American colony there started by slaves, before reading this book. This book follows a family throughout time and across continents who have survived American slavery, Liberian Civil War and immigrating to America to start over. The changing point of views stood out as distinct and interesting voices.The whole story is non linear and lacks clear paths or conclusions. It uses intimate details and relationships to give you an abstract way of looking at history through fictionalized events.
 "This is what the demons tech us to survive to become two people at once. To hide ourselves in plain sight . What kind of sick learning is this?"
Kollie is a recent Liberian immigrant struggling to fit in with African Americans in high school, unable to connect with peers who bully and make fun of his culture. Togar is a indigenous Liberian who is forced to leave his home and family after his village is raided by Congo people who steal indigenous men and force them into labor. Yasmine is a young mother who sets out with her four children to Liberia to escape the horrors of slavery and build a new country with a better future for her children. Ujay is a Liberian University student trying to support revolution in a divided country.  The horrors and heartbreak throughout their stories was shocking but something I felt was the only way to convey the true tragedy of Liberian history.
"If words were the only tools at your disposal to make sense of a lineage in two countries that never seemed to align or intersect in ways that made you feel like anything but a perpetual foreigner in either place , you too would have spent the last three years in a small room behind a computer screen, desperately punching out a invented history."
The story and characters are great but segments of the book were a bit too drawn out and slow paced. There is a segment at the back of the book listing major events in Liberian history. I suggest reading that first  to make sense of some of the glossed over details about Liberia throughout the book.  I emotionally connected with and learned a lot from these characters. This story will make you reflect on family race and identity in memorable and important ways. 

Recommended for Readers who
- enjoy family sagas spanning continents and generations
- want to learn more about Liberian History and the African American colony built by ex-slaves
- can digest serious topics and tragedy told in a straight forward way
**I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.**

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

InToriLex, Shannon Gibney
Shannon Gibney is an author and university professor. Her novel See No Color, drawn from her life as a transracial adoptee, won the Minnesota Book Award and was hailed by Kirkus as "an exceptionally accomplished debut" and by Publishers Weekly as "an unflinching look at the complexities of racial identity." Her essay "Fear of a Black Mother" appears in the anthology A Good Time for the Truth. She lives with her two Liberian-American children in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 
WEBSITE
TWITTER
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Sunday Post #20 September 9, 2018

September 9, 2018
Sunday Post, InToriLex, Weekly Feature
Sunday Post is a Book Blog Meme hosted at the Caffeinated Reviewer. It's a post used to summarize what has happened on your blog for the past week, and preview what's next.

Review: The Black God's Drums by P. Djèlí Clark

COMING SOON

Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Review: Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Review: Dream Country by Shannon Gibney 

Book Scoop September 7- September 14, 2018

BOOKS HAULED

Dream Country, Impanted, Schmuck the Buck, InToriLex
Dream Country by Shannon Gibney- This is a family saga about African Americans searing for freedom 
OUT September 11, 2018 from Dutton Books for Young Readers

Implanted by Lauren C. Teffeau- This book was sent to me by the author. It involves main character who can encode data in her blood, nefarious organizations and a dystopian world.
OUT NOW from Angry Robot 
Schmuck the Buck: Santa's Jewish Reindeer by EXO Books,
Karina Shor (Illustrations)- I was sent this adult Holiday Book from EXO Books. I skimmed through it and it definitely seems weird and entertaining. The best kinds of stories. 
OUT NOW from Exo Books, LLC

LIFE LATELY

If you follow me on twitter you already know I been MIA from the blog because I went on vacation, and a unplanned hiatus followed. I had a blast in New Orleans for my friend's Bachelorette Party. When I got back I realized how busy this past week was going to be because I was gone, and decided to take last week off. I feel refreshed and invigorated to get back in the swing of things. I can't wait to catch up with blogs and get back to a more normal routine. 

#Recently Finished
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi- This was a story told from the point of view of voices in a mentally ill woman's head. It was beautiful and wonderful, I'm so happy I read it. There's not enough stars to describe how good it was.

Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon-  I thought this book was about a cult gone awry. Instead this was a short read about two people in love trying to find themselves. Still a decent read but not what I was expecting.

How did your reading go this week?
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