Review: Kindness For Weakness by Shawn Goodman

Kindness for Weakness

Kindness For Weakness by Shawn Goodman

May 14, 2013 -Delacorte Books for Young Readers

272 pgs. – Yougn Adult, Fiction, Contemporary

Purpose: Review, Random TBR
Source: Publisher, Netgalley

5 stars *****

(Click Picture to go to Goodreads.)

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

In short, this story is about James. He is fifteen years old and lives with his mother and her abusive boyfriend. His father left when he was 5 and his brother, Louis,  has also left, and while they do interact with each other it is only on Louis’ terms and usually when Louis needs something.

James is a quiet character who walks to erase the hunger pains, and meets with his English teacher to discuss books and drink root beer. He is smart, but has no friends and an unstable family. Louis reaches out to him and asks him to do him a favor. In the midst of this Louis lies to him but James accepts it, quietly, and goes on. The favor puts James in jail.

This story is James’ journey, and I wish that I could say that there was hope to be found within these pages. But, there’s not. It is a hard and bitter journey, and it takes you  places you would rather not go. It makes you feel things that you would rather not feel, or make you  unsure how to feel.  You are witnessing very brutal things through the eyes of a very quiet and weak boy. While he learns to get strong, he discovers things for himself. He slowly decides who he is and what he wants from life, without any real hope of a way to get there. He soon learns that it takes more than just wanting it.

He is able to make parallels between a book his English teacher has given him, and a book that he is given in group with his life and his stay in the juvenile detention center. But it is not enough to keep him safe or to give him a happily ever after.

Don’t get me wrong, this is an amazing book. Goodman does an excellent job of telling the story. But, it is not a happy one. It is one that I would definitely recommend to anyone, but especially those who are working with youth. Specifically, those considered to be “at risk”. Don’t go into this book, expecting a loud display of everything that is wrong with the system. Don’t expect the loudness of gang members who are used to being tossed and rehomed in jail.  James is quiet, and thoughtful. He is not a fighter,  he is not street smart. He knows that he is weak, but he is trying to survive – to do his time and never return.

Read this as a class, with a teen, as a group. Whatever. Discuss. Do not just read it, share your thoughts, your hopes and your rage.

I won’t lie to you. You will hate the ending. It’s not fair. It’s brutal and resounds with the hopelessness that the boys within the pages are burdened with. But, it is so worth the read.

 

Always Shine!

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DNF Review: Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Little & Lion

Little & Lion by Brand Colbert

August 8, 2017- Little Brown

327 pg. – Fiction, Young Adult, contemporary

Purpose: Random TBR

Source: Library

If you want to read what this story is about, click here.

There will be spoilers!!!

Okay, so this is a book that I have been wanting to read since it came out. In fact, when random.org picked this for me to read this round I was super excited. It wasn’t the first book that I picked up only because I had to wait for the library hold to come through.

This isn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. And I have no interest in what it is. I thought that this was supposed to be about a brother and sister learning to deal with the brother’s mental illness.  And while there is that, it is mostly about the girl, Little discovering her sexuality. This is YA so there is drama and angst, and I’m just not interested in reading about it.

The writing was fine, and even pulled me in. But there’s a love triangle (possibly square) and I hate love triangles.  Especially ones that I don’t think are done right.  Little (Suzette) comes back from her boarding school (she was sent there so her parents could focus on her brother’s developing mental illness without having to deal with her. <Another issue that I have with the book.) where she was in a relationship with her roommate. I’m not sure if it’s over or on pause since she is spending the summer at home. She doesn’t go back so I’m thinking something happened, but she keeps bringing Iris up so I’m thinking that maybe it’s not completely over.  Her first day back she sees her old friend Emil, who is attractive and she would date except it’s what her parents have wanted to happen for so long.  Then she goes to a welcome home party and finds a girl attractive there. Based on the synopsis,  Little falls for the girl but so does Lion.

I particularly didn’t like this love triangle because it’s messy. She obviously didn’t resolve everything with Iris. She’s interested in Emil, and he’s interested in her. The only reason that they didn’t get together was because it’s something that their parents have wanted (and that’s her reasoning not his). And the girl? Well, being interested in the same person as your brother is awkward at best.

To be honest, I didn’t make it very far into this book. I am assuming that a love triangle develops with Suzette (but hey maybe one develops with the girl between Little & Lion). And hey maybe I’m wrong (If I am, please tell me so I can go back to it). But, I’m also a little concerned that Little believes it’s up to her to save her brother. He is bipolar not dying.  And did I mention that I think that their sibling relationship reads a little weird?

I didn’t want to wade through a messy love triangle just to get to sibling relationship story. So this was a pass for me.

 

January Book Round-Up

As I prepare to do my quarterly check-in, I thought now would be a good time to start doing some book round-ups.  There will be two children’s book round-ups and then February and March round-ups. While the children’s book round-ups includes all of the books that I’ve read, the adult book round-ups only include books that do not have reviews posted.

Wolves (I Bring the Fire, #1) Wolves (I Bring the Fire #1) by C. Gockel 2 stars

So this is one that I was excited about reading (audio) until I started it. It was ok, but the ending ruined it for me. It just stopped. It didn’t have a cliffhanger, it just stopped. Maybe this is a serial novel, in which case I was not prepared for. There wasn’t any resolution to anything that was happening, I had more questions than answers. Some parts were confusing, and that was okay because it was clarified later.  I probably won’t continue this unless there comes a time where I am able to read all of the books back to back, unless someone tells me that the first book is the only one that just stops as it did.

Forces of Nature Forces of Nature (#1) by Cheris Hodges – 3 stars

This was pretty good. Instant attraction, hot and steamy sexy times and an overall story that was interesting. Though, I do think it’sstupid that the parents kept secret the information that may have kept this romance from happening in the first place (however illogical it is). Kind of like Romeo and Juliet without the kids knowing that they were enemies.

The Sweetest Thing (Just Desserts #1) The Sweetest Thing (Just Desserts #1) by Deborah Fletcher Mello -3 stars

I really enjoyed this, the romance was sweet. There was humor, family and friendship. My only complaint is some of the resolution and mending of friendships happened rather quickly. Looking forward to the next one.

The Unyielding (Call of Crows, #3) The Unyielding (Call of Crows #3) by Shelly Laurenston – 4 Stars

Oh wow! This was intense. But, I did enjoy it. You got to know more about the clans and the characters. Erin has her time to shine, though there was a lot of times I just wanted her to shut up. But the ending… it answers my question about whether or not this was the final book or not.

The Dog Who Came for Christmas The Dog Who Came for Christmas by Sue Pethick – 4 stars

I liked this one, more contemporary with a romantic angle than a straight romance, but that’s okay. I think it ended rather abruptly, I would have like to have seen that scene wrap up completely before ending it. It’s not overwhelming with the Christmas decorations and traditions so it’d be okay to read anytime. 

 

That’s all for now!

 

Always Shine!

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 

February 28, ,2017 – Balzer & Bray

464p – Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary

Purpose: Review, #offmybookshelf

Source: Edelweiss, Publisher, Bookshelf

5 stars

I was given a copy of this title, free, en exchange for my honest opinion. 

his is another book that talks about a white police officer shooting a black male. But make no mistake, it is also a book that stands out on its own. You have probably already heard of this book, as it came out and took the world by storm. I am not one that ever feels that a book deserves a bunch of hype, but in this case I can understand it. It is good for so many reasons, but it is not a perfect book. (I have yet to find one that is.)

Starr is at  party in her neighborhood when shots are fired. Her old friend, Khalil is there with her and quickly gets her out and safely away. While heading to her house or her father’s store, they are pulled over by a white officer for  a busted headlight. While Starr is mentally reciting the lessons of how to behave when pulled over by the police, it is apparent that Khalil did not receive those lessons.  As the police is making his way to the car, Starr does ask if there is any drugs in the car. What could have simply been a routine stop quickly escalates into a homicide. This is due to both Khalil’s mouthiness and the officer’s fear/prejudice/choice.

**With the rising number of shootings, people -black people in particular- have been having conversations with their kids about what to do when you are pulled over by the police? Is it necessary? If you have taught your kids to be respectful of authority then no it’s not. Because, regardless of your opinion of the police or your socio-economic circumstance the police are in a position of authority. EVEN IF YOU HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG. I have been pulled over before and was told that I resembled a suspect that the police were looking for. No I didn’t believe them, but I was still respectful. Sometimes, it’s not about being right, it’s about doing the right thing.**

Starr then struggles with how to reconcile what has happened, with the way the world reacts and how the police handle the situation. It’s murder to Starr and every other black person that was not there that night. But the police do not see it as such. This brings up a lot of emotions, one that just didn’t make much sense to me. She felt that by being with Chris, she was somehow betraying Khalil. After a year of dating, you’re just not realizing that your boyfriend is white and now you think you’re betraying your race? In reality, all of these feelings would have come up at the beginning of their relationships and not now, and they would have been resolved  by this point. Especially with Big Mav as a dad. So, I’m calling flag on the field.

**I am with a white man, I have two biracial babies. My dad always had something about white people. I did not go to a school that was dominantly white, but I was constantly the only black person around.  And before anyone thinks that you only date white guys cause that’s all you’re around, bull. It’s a choice to date outside of your race-regardless of what your race is. It doesn’t happen by accident, so you can’t wake up one day and realize dude my boyfriend’s white. Yes, there are some things that make the differences in race more apparent.  But I’m calling foul on Starr’s sudden realization. **

As Starr deals with the loss of Khalil and with what the news is reporting about him, she is learnign that there is more to him than even she knew about. And she has to come to terms to that. At the same time the communities around her are reacting. Either by trying to figure how to deal with the anger and the hurt that they feel or by trying to get justice in a situation that is all too familiar to them.

This is bringing to light so many things for Starr, not just with her community, but with her family and her fellow classmates. She is learning so much,  she is learning to use her voice but most importantly, she is joining the conversation.

This book is powerful, not just because of the content of its pages. It is joining the conversation. It is lifting back the covers and giving the world an inside peek at how things really are -as much as  a work of fiction can. The Hate U Give acts as a window into Starr’s story that is at once all to familiar and completely foreign-depending on a reader’s own experiences.  Thomas does an amazing job in creating characters that are real and emotionally authentic.  She has taken a situation that is in itself already complex and controversial and pulled back to give 360• view of it. There’s surprises. there’s humor and there’s truth. Truth about the pain, the anger and the feeling of being lost in your own world.

 

Always Shine!

Book Round Up- Kid Edition

I am curating my library as well as my kids’ library.  Which means that I will be reading books that have been on our shelves to determine whether or not to keep them or checking them out from the library to see if I want to purchase them. So here are my thoughts for the last 6 books that I’ve read so far—

I Survived the Great Chicago Fire, 1871 (I Survived, #11) (Library) I liked this. It was easy to read and nicely balanced between survival action and historical information. This is a big series, so I am not sure if this is something that I will invest in until my kids are old enough to say that they want it. I do know that I will be using select books as supplemental material.

Kristy's Great Idea (The Baby-Sitters Club, #1) (Library) This was very nostalgic for me. I remember reading it as a kid. Again, this is a big series, so I will not be buying the whole series. I may buy the first couple as placeholders and to share it with my kids, and buy more as they say they want more. Re-reading it was fun, and I remember why I liked it so much. I think that it is a series that kids today would also enjoy.

Mrs. Jeepers on Vampire Island (The Adventures Of The Bailey School Kids Super Special, #6) (Little Free Library) I don’t know where I was when this series first arrived on the scene, but I am sorry that I missed it the first time around. But I am glad that I came across it now. I enjoyed it and want to check out more. Again, as appears to be a pattern, this is a big series. So I will be waiting for my kids to ask for it before investing in it.

Nate the Great and the Big Sniff (Personal Library) Okay, I didn’t like this one. It was simplistic and I wasn’t too impressed with it. While I know that my kids will all go through the stage where the simplistic writing will be necessary…I didn’t find this story interesting enough to check out more from the series.

Santa Claus Doesn't Mop Floors (The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, #3) (Library) Again, I enjoyed this series. Eddie it the ringleader of trouble. It was short, but still fun and gave a nice glimpse of the characters. The ending was a little quick, but I still want to read more from this series.

Crash (Stay Alive, #1) (Personal Library) I liked this story. I found that it would be good to talk about survival as well as group dynamics. You got multiple reactions to the situations and that helped make it believable No one character was perfect and knew everything. They all made mistakes. Some characters didn’t survive the entire experience. I did like the fact that there were survival tips at the beginning of each part. I will be getting the rest of the series.

What you should know:

Books that I don’t plan on investing in (currently or later) are still books that I plan on continuing to read from my public library.

Books that I don’t enjoy will be donated or sold, but I won’t be keeping them in our collection.

 

 

Do you  have a children’s book that you  think everyone should read and/or own? Let me know in the comments below!!

 

Always Shine!

DNF Review: The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

The Keeper of Lost Causes (Department Q, #1)

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Department Q #1

August 23, 2011 – Dutton Adult

395 p. -Adult, Fiction, Mystery, Crime, Political

Source: Netgalley, Publisher

Purpose: Review

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Full disclosure: this is one of the very old titles that I just hadn’t read or reviewed.  I am slowly working through my backlog of titles, hoping to catch up in the next century. Because it is so old, I no longer have the downloaded galley and I ended up checking out the audio-book from my library. So, I can’t say if I would have a different opinion if I had read it myself instead of listening to it.

My Thoughts:

I am not sure what I was expecting with this novel. I guess I was thinking it would be more about the investigating of cold cases, but that’s not what I got. At least not in the first 30% of it. I found this slow and hard to get into. The time jumps, as well as the character jumps made it more confusing than it needed to be.  I didn’t like the main character.  It appeared that he was kind of waiting around until he was fired, but he didn’t really want to be fired. I think he came back to work too soon. He didn’t seem to be interested in working, let alone actually investigating or solving a case. The final thing that really turned me off of this book was the politics.

I don’t know maybe this book would be better if read in print or digitally instead of listening to it. I am pretty good at not judging a book by the narrator though, let me know if you’ve read this and think I should give it a second chance.

 

 

Always Shine!

 

Books That I DNF’d -January

While, I have read a read a lot this month and enjoyed most of that, there were a few books that I couldn’t quite make myself continue with, and it’s unlikely that I’ll pick them up again anytime soon.  These are those books.. you can click on the image to go to Goodreads.

Stand by Me (A SouledOut Sisters Novel #1) Stand by Me by Neta Johnson- I was really sad that I wasn’t enjoying this. I remember wanting to check it out a long time ago, and then forgot about it.  When I remembered it, I had to hunt down the title before I could check it out. And then I started reading it. And I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the voice of the black character, it just didn’t sound right to me. That’s the best way that I can describe the thoughts that were swirling around as I tried to figure out what I disliked about it.

Poison Study (Study, #1)  Poison Study b Maria V. Snyder – Ok this is one that I may actually pick up next year or whatever. And it may be poor timing that made me dnf this one. I am currently reading Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass and it was just too similar. Yelena -Selena, assassins, not a fan of the king, both had bad things happen to them at the hands of some higher official. Since Poison Study was published first, it would be fair to say the Mass’ book isn’t all that original, but it’s what I started reading first.

32 Candles 32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter – Sixteen Candles all grown up? Yes Please. Or maybe not. I started listening to the audio book version, and the person who narrated this made Davidia sound stupid and annoying. But again, this is a book that I’ve been meaning to pick up for a while. So I will probably pick this book up -after I get the narrator’s voice out of my head.

We'll Never Tell  We’ll Never Tell by Kayla Perrin – This is a new to me author, I discovered her as I read a novella of hers for my February project. I enjoyed the novella. But this one, I just wasn’t motivated to finish. I was really interested in the event that was supposed to happen, and the small mystery that was going on. But Phoebe was the stereotypical sorority girl and that was annoying. I just couldn’t get behind that character without wanting to throat punch her. The brewing violence was foreshadowed a little heavy-handedly, and that didn’t help the situation.

 

Okay, so at the beginning I said that it was unlikely that I’d be picking up these books again. And now I’m thinking that there’s at least two that I will probably try again later—much much later, and one that I definitely will try again later. But the hard DNF is Stand By Me, I simply didn’t like it and since I was reading it, I can’t blame the narrator.

What are some books that you DNF’d this month?

Always Shine!