{ARC Review} The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore

Title: The Stars Beneath Our Feet

Author: David Barclay Moore

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books For Young Readers

Publication Date: 19 September 2017

Rating; 2.5 stars

Disclaimer: I have no knowledge of changes that have occurred in the final version.

I am not a well-read reader when it comes to middle grade novels and so this book did not suit me so well due to the level at which it was at. But this was a book that I wish had been put in my hands when I was in that middle-grade books stage, just to see black kids not for any other reason. This book and its characters came alive with its cast of marginalized characters. I loved reading a book with children that were so…real and delightful. I loved the descriptions of Lolly’s world and the adventures that he went on. I loved seeing his evolution throughout the story and seeing him grapple with the darkness within himself. That was something that I want to spend time thinking about and that I personally haven’t really seen in the books that I have read. I have seen characters deal with dark circumstances and insecurities, like anyone else. But dealing with the darkness coming from within that sprouted from those circumstances, I don’t know if what I am saying will make any sense or sound any different but it was different. Moore made it so…fresh even when parts could come off as trite. I loved how for most of the novel though some parts were shorter than others, most of it wasn’t filler. The varied vernacular was…stimulating from time to time. I loved Rosamund, especially. She was beautiful and complex, though I am unsure of the accurate representation of autism, sometimes it made me uneasy, and am not sure how correctly it was done. Someone else would have to weigh in that was actually autistic.

Now for the things I didn’t love. Some circumstances in the last few chapters seemed unnecessary and gave off an annoying, filler vibe.  There was a cast of queer characters within this novel. If I’m giving Moore the benefit of the doubt, I would say it was to normalize or to include a realistic variety of characters considering the setting is where one might expect a variety of people. However, the way these characters are portrayed is unsettling. Moore chose to include caricatures. I wish I knew why. These characters were not respected or treated with decency in this novel. They were constantly picked at, poked, and degraded. I’m not saying that that isn’t real life. I’m just saying the way that was portrayed made me uneasy. He (referring to Moore) seemed to be trying to regard these characters with respect but failed miserably.

Jonathan got constantly mentioned but almost no development or anything really attached to him besides being called “limp wrist” on repeated occasions. The reader will never learn much of who he really is, just see other characters make fun of him in what maybe is supposed to be affectionate but really just comes off as the characters being disgusted with him for nothing besides his identity. There was no breakdown of discrimination in this novel, at least when it came to Jonathan. There was no setup of characters saying these things and then someone speaking out against it. It just was  silently carried along and that validated it in a way that could be considered hurtful but maybe some would just shrug at. I don’t really think it is a healthy thing for kids to be exposed to and could just perpetuate the cruelty of making fun of boys that come off in a way that is different than the others which always leads to bigger problems as we should all be well aware of by now.

Aston Stewart was all right, in that the character seemed confident, but he was wronged in this novel every step of the way, by the other adults he interacted in this novel and subconsciously by Lolly? I found it very confusing especially considering Lolly’s mother, which you will find out in the first pages of the novel, should technically be more accepting of Aston. I found the reactions when Aston was introduced appalling.

Butteray Jones was made fun of which made me uneasy for kids like him reading this novel. I feel like any attempt to try to support him afterwards in this novel was half-baked and not well done in a way that would combat the already negative message and its impact. I don’t think any of the malice in this book was intended,because no one could be this bad, but it is there and I found it nauseating and it was perplexing. I felt like there was some back and forth underlying message that ended up being unclear static. It didn’t fit to me since the book was going so well to stop every once in a while to include characters and basically knock them down.

This book will end up, unfortunately, sending a message to children that are like the characters that were made fun of that there is something wrong with them. That they might be sort of accepted but remind them that who they are could never be, at least not completely and might encourage other children to make fun of them which, as I said before, always leads to more problems that keep on the hateful society that we are burning in now.

And since the book is so lovely in other aspects, I found it a combination of deeply disparaging and confusing. If queer characters are just going to be made fun of, why even include them? It just clouds the positive message that you were trying to send with fat raindrops of negativity that might be found imperceptible to some but what about those who pick up on that message? What then for them? I hope that Moore improves his handling of characters not like himself. No one can be perfect, of course, but this book would have been way better with a little help from sensitivity readers who would have caught these details. This book was, in the end, bittersweet. It was full of the potential to be beautiful and to bloom and bloom it started, and then suddenly stopped midway and wilted. I will recommend it but only for those who wouldn’t be triggered or as deeply disappointed by this sort of message being put out during this time or those that do not notice or are not good at paying attention to details and reoccurring underlying messages.

 

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{ARC Review} Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Disclaimer: I have no knowledge of changes that have occurred in the final version.

Sidenote: I encourage readers of The Hate U give to read this book too because it is fascinating the comparison and the contrasts of Malcolm X’s teachings and Martin’s in both books. It is just something that could spark a thought process or conversation or avenue that I feel should be explored after reading both books relatively one after another.

***

Dear Martin is a book that I was able to relate to because of the authentic black voice. Though I will admit, most of the vernacular if not all of it is not used in my specific black community, I was able to relate to the struggles of Justyce and a little of how he processed them and I loved that.

Throughout the book, Justyce struggles with his black identity with regards to how he is perceived by white persons (usually negatively) and how he has to deal with that on an emotional level. He writes letters attempting a social experiment with the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. What I love about Justyce specifically, besides the fact that he is an honour student, is that he has flaws with how he deals with his emotions and how that affects his interactions with others. Not necessarily that he is a “bad” character or person but that he is genuinely struggling to be human in a world that sees him as less than.

I feel like we, readers of Dear Martin, learn as we read about the different perspectives of black people dealing with the same issues throughout the book . I love how intertwined other  characters’ stories are with Justyce’s story. It represents real life and we see how it isn’t necessarily the whole world seeing him as less than but a part that he can overcome within himself and still become the man he wants to be even though it feels like oceans are raging against him. Because at the end of the day, Justyce has the power within himself that he never truly knew he had until he experiences overwhelming hardships within this book. Obviously, he cannot necessarily overcome racism in that he cannot erase it by deeds and he isn’t imagining the racism occurring to him. The world of white people around Justyce exempting a few are racist but people who understand his struggle help Justyce step towards emotional maturity where he gets the strength to focus on himself and the greatness he is achieving rather than the ignorant people trying to hurt him because of what they stubbornly believe to be true.

As I was reading the book it was like Nic  was saying, “We will overcome. Yeah, this sucks and it is depressing that people want you to fail because it will help their own worlds keep spinning. We will overcome, nevertheless.” And that message is so vital to younger and older black readers as a reminder (to those who have forgotten) of the strength within themselves. While this  book supports the Martin Luther King message, I felt an undercurrent of Malcolm X beating although  that is nowhere near the author’s intent or final message. I feel empowered to become the person I want to be, to have the freedom I want to have, by any means necessary. But, I also feel mellowed and the nonviolent message doesn’t seem weak but even more powerful when used in this particular teen’s struggle ultimately to understand the world and himself.

There is power in nonviolence. There is power in black people. There is power in being yourself when the world doesn’t want you to. And, ultimately, if we keep resisting, we will learn to ask more meaningful questions and gain the strength to find and dig up those more meaningful answers. Go read it for yourself and prepare to think, be changed, and be amazed.

I have said this once and I will say it again: Dear  Martin is a work of humour, heart, and visceral emotion. It is one that opens the mind in a thrilling, exciting, heartbreaking way. Nic looks into your soul and opens it up to more possibilities with this book. This debut and its author are destined to be a stunner and have been for years now. Dear Martin will leave readers constantly asking for the next book and pleading, “When? When? When?”

 

[Book Review] The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 

I haven’t had the opportunity but forever I have been wanting to talk about The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I read this book in March and it etched it’s way into my core scratch by scratch. 

This book was more than a now book. It was a now-and-always book to me. It seemed to reach back in the past to the days of Good Burger and Hey Arnold to the days where black people win at everything and the culture is constantly appropriated to the uncertain days ahead of us. This book seemed to preach the words and the thoughts and feelings of black people and women everywhere to me. I know that I cannot know if that is true because I cannot know all the experiences that black people everywhere have but something about Angie’s writing was like a resounding voice. An echo into a cavern and it was like…there was a light answering back. This is a book that I wished I had before my official teenage years, even. 

   This is a book that is THE  book to point at when explaining what you mean when you say that those outside the black experience cannot write as authentically as those within. There is something that was so nuanced, so deeply bound within this book that I personally feel either cannot or is hard to be found in a book with a black MC written by a white individual. There is a soul within, a spirit within it that is so natural that I feel that even decades writing no other individual would be able to style it in a way that is similar enough to be satisfactory. This book was the torch held in the sky by Lady Liberty. So high that it would be difficult, almost impossible for any other light to reach or ever match that torch. That is how I felt and feel at this time.

The Hate U Give is a beating heart with so much blood and love and realness inside of it that when you feel it inside of you, it is almost as if you might burst with the joy and the heartache that is this book. I loved how the characters were so fully developed. It was almost as if they were breathing and it pulled me out of wherever I was, fully into the book. I love how the writing is so honest. There were some lines that as soon as I read them, they seemed to bury themselves in my insides. This is a book that if I had the time, I would probably read over and over again. 

I love the humanity within this book and the rising awareness of complex characters within YA and sometimes morally ambiguous ones, too, because I feel though the majority of us (or so I would like to believe) strive to be good and honest people…The Hate U Give identifies the moral ambiguity within people. Within black people, without degrading the characters or making them out to be less than because of their flaws. The moral ambiguity makes the characters so vulnerable, there they are raw and ripped open for your love. Thank you, Angie Thomas, for writing The Hate U Give. 

Second Year Blogiversary

This technically my second year blogiversary and I’ve stopped blogging for many months although I’ve continued somehow to accumulate job offers which I’ve had to turn down and though I’ve had ideas that I could write or have begun. The reason is simple: school and time management. I don’t know where this blog is going or where it will go. I think that when I do start blogging again, it will probably be quality over quantity. And I know I’m writing into a void. I don’t expect connections and a following or comments. I’m not even going to check my stats. 

It’s just going to be me, updating you with my opinion on books. Events that have happened. Writing, poetry. Art. Mostly book and literature connected things that might occasionally stray sometimes. I just wonder about the kind of blog I could have if I kept going, I think it could be beautiful. And I don’t expect to be remembered or this thing that all of twitter praises. 

Whatever I post here will be remarkable in one way or another, whether it’s lauded-snorts-or it’s barely glanced at. No matter what it may look like, I know I have a beautiful mind and words inside of me waiting to burst out into something that for me will be big but go mostly unnoticed, remain obscure. There’s something glamorous to me now about the quotidian, about focusing on the moment, hugging and loving friends, drinking tea, and not obsessing over social media. Having a blog that at its core is about a love and passion for books, cookies, and people. That isn’t commercial in the slightest sense of the word. 

So thank you for following me, all of you new followers. I don’t really expect a peep out of you but it is lovely that you had stopped by and sensed something remarkable in me. I see it in you, too. 

What have I been up to? Studying. College exam. Reading. Loving. Living. Going places, like Jamaica, my homeland. Learning sign language and crochet. Poetry stuff. Got an award-participation, but still. 

What are my future plans? Go and meet Nic Stone where she lives and see my uncle and cousin where they live. 

Go see a musical in Pennsylvania. 

Hang out with my friend when she gets back from India. 

Create art and projects for upcoming birthdays and graduations. 

Go see my friends graduate and start another chapter of their lives. 

Get involved with the Deaf community hopefully. 

Am I any different from last year in terms of reading tastes? I’m trying out lit fic and I’m not that into fantasy but not really. 🙂 just want to focus on diverse books. 

Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today. I want to to be a part of it, new york

I would post a picture of my friends, but of course, I love them still. Just imagine a pretty black girl with black lipstick on and a choker and a lighter skinned black person. with glasses and a green t-shirt that has a picture of a newspaper on it smiling in the unattractive lighting, feeling the greatest in the world, right here. 

I’m a sensitivity reader who has read for a bestselling author! Contact me at my childish email: fighterofawriter777@gmail.com! Rates and related questions can be found on this site about the programme, myself, and my experience! 



Top Ten Tuesday: What I’m Grateful For 

1. My new friends, I should really say family.

2. my experience in the fall show I performed in  

3. Art supplies and my ability to come up with amazing ideas.

4. God. 

5. Being able to read back my  positivity lists. 

6. the feeling of creating because it’s beautiful  

7. quiet mornings and quiet moments or just normal moments with people I care about: playing with my friend’s hair while she watches something or works on something and when she looks at me when I’ve done it, quietly not because she’s bothered just to look and make eye contact and everything’s just peaceful and she’s happy. (Black people hair is the best hair, seriously.)

8. Hugs from friends and their smiles. Their smiles make me grin just thinking about it and not seeing it right now. I just love seeing people happy. 

9. The way someone looks at you when they love you and how it feels when someone speaks to you when they love you and you have a moment when you can just feel like everything is okay even in a day or time that is not okay at all. 

10. The voice of Christina. Her voice is so beautiful that it, like, awes my ears and immediately makes me happy and feel better.

Bonus: 11. Nic’s existence. we can’t do without that, now can we. 

how could you have 

you 

go to @getnicced on twitter and instagram to be blessed with intelligence and wit and cute kids and @booklookz on instagram to feel blessed with the most extravagant beauty in this world’s existence 

I’m not even exaggerating but you thought I was didn’t you 

Now you can just go 

I’m grateful for you too 

BEAUTIFUL BOOKS 2016: Let’s talk about NaNo

​I haven’t done a post in a while and I’ve decided I’m going to get my life back on track when it comes to the book world. Let’s go. I’m going to use Cait’s Beautiful Books 2016 for NANO. I’m doing NaNo this year actually but I didn’t have the motivation to work on an actual book as I’m still waiting on feedback regarding my first one. I’m writing poetry because I can do that and I love it and it’s still telling a story. It’s just telling mine. Okay, so the link is here: http://paperfury.com/beautiful-books-2016/
What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
Actually, I’ve been recently into Rupi Kaur. It was an accident, really. I was looking up quotes when deciding what to use for the little gift tag on my friend’s birthday present that I was purchasing in gift wrapping from Amazon. (Highly recommend by the way, the wrapping was beautiful, and it’s totally worth the extra money.) I ended up ordering her poetry collection, Milk and Honey, and read the entire thing in a day and I’ve watched a Ted talk and a bunch of other videos regarding Rupi and I guess that empowered me to feel like I can do my own collection for NaNo although it will never be published and I will never, like ever, submit it for publication. So in summary, since late October and Rupi Kaur. 
Describe what your novel is about!
Okay! So, it’s a poetry collection that’s been taking place over a matter of months now and it’s basically about love and human beings. I know that probably sounds vague to you. I mean that it’s more about specific people that I’ve cared about or that I do care about in a variety of ways as well as how I tend to view humans which is sort of like, I’ll view them as complex universes or art? I do view them as real but in a way that’s less concrete, less set in stone and more vast and beautiful and in a way that makes it easy for me to become enamoured with someone. Art is generally my way of making sense of situations and the world so it only makes sense that that is how I would make sense of people too.

  It’s composed of various letters to people and sort of delving into a friendship I have with someone and us going back to days as children that we’ve never had, being happier, our struggles, exploring the complexities of that person, etc etc. 

 

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!
I’ll actually find some pictures for you that aren’t Pinterest but that I actually made or took except the first one. Hold on. 

Introduce us to each of your characters!
Okay. So let’s introduce you to me. 

In this novel/collection type thing, I’m someone telling a story by travelling to different places in time. Some are in the present, that day, some in the past, and some in worlds that aren’t real or in alternate universes. The universes could be that person’s mind or my own. I’ll be a child, I’ll be older at a book signing, I’ll be on tightropes with a person. I’ll be swimming in water that’s not really water but sort of littered in stars and that I can kind of breathe in and the person too. I’ll be looking up at someone suspended into the air. I’m everywhere and I never know where I’ll be next and that’s the beauty of it because isn’t that what real life is?
There’s a boy who doesn’t really believe in himself, we see him travel through pieces and places of time but only at the very beginning because that’s where he’s most relevant. He sort of sifts through a few different attitudes. He’s eventually confident, successful. We aren’t close so there are only about two poems about him but both long ones. He takes me on the tightrope and keeps pushing me off for some reason and bringing me back up again. 
There’s a girl who’s really complex. Beautiful, strong, sweet, masculine to tomboyish style of dress. She really diversifies the whole thing not in terms of what she is or how she identifies but in terms of how she affects things and people around her and her power. She inspired a lot of my work and took me to places I didn’t know I could go in my writing. 
How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
Oh, I just write, it’s usually urgent. I write like I’m running out of air and it is my way to oxygen.
What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
It’s a grand exploration of a lot for me, it will be really wonderful to see it complete and be able to pick out my fave parts and do art based on them. 
List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
City. 

Universe. 

Human consciousness based on Rupi Kaur’s exploration of it in her Ted talk. 
What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way


I think my character’s goal is honestly to find a way to communicate something to someone who they feel needs to hear it and should feel comforted and less alone and to love the person that takes them to heights within their thoughts and depths they didn’t originally consider and I think my character would be dealing with not really being able to let them know that just due to their own communication barriers because they communicate best through art and the abstract and the unreal and that cannot always work with the person in question.  
How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
I have no idea. 
What are your book’s themes?
Love, humanity, vulnerability, adolescence, adulthood, fatherlessness, blackness, queerness, friendship, dealing with when your friend commits suicide, life, and intimacy fundamentally. You can interpret that how you want to interpret that. 
 How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
If I ever let the person I’m writing about the most read their poems? I guess I would want them to feel beautiful and to feel loved. That’s what I always want for them. To feel their power, feel their beauty, and feel how loved they are. 
Yeah. Thanks for reading. Have a good Monday. 🙂

SST November: Guest Post for Tara Sim’s Timekeeper!

I haven’t been able to do anything with anything in a long time but I finally got this post up so YAY, success. This book is great! check it out. I think I’m probably going to leave this blog until December and then I’ll start making posts consistently again if not before so I’ll have enough quality posts prepared and everything rather than posting to post. Quality rules over quantity, yeah? Yeah. I hope you’re doing well post election if you’re in America. I’m not, obviously, by the state of this blog.  

Timekeeper GR synopsis: Two o’clock was missing. 
In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.
It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.
And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.
But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

Tara Sim, person who’s reading this! 

Write the main character’s bucket list and how he would most like to achieve the highest item on said bucket-list.

I asked Danny what his bucket list is, but he’s been grumpily unresponsive, so instead Colton is going to share his bucket list with you (after asking what exactly “bucket list” means). Just bear in mind that Colton…doesn’t get out much:

10. I’d like to paint the clock tower a new color, just for fun. Like purple, or pink.

9. Find more clothes? I think it would be nice to have a wardrobe. Not sure where I’d put it, though. Or what would go in it. Recently I heard someone say she needed more petticoats. Maybe I’ll try to find petticoats.

8.  Get more cats. One time an orange cat wandered into the tower and just stayed here. I found food for her and pet her and it was lovely. Then one day she gave birth—I thought she was just fat—and there were suddenly a lot of cats. So the tower was full of them for a while, and it was very nice.

7. Read an entire book on my own. I know how to read now! But reading entirely on my own is still hard.

6. Cook something. I’m so fascinated with watching people in Enfield cook. I don’t even understand it. They cut up some food, add other bits of food, and then it becomes some other sort of food? How does that even happen? Is there a secret I need to know? How does this work?

5. Make Danny laugh more. He is too serious.

4. Play a musical instrument. Sometimes people play on the village green, and it sounds so lovely that I want to try it too. The closest I can come is ringing the bells, I suppose. I tried doing that once when a band was playing and everyone got scared for some reason.

3. I’d like to join the townspeople when they celebrate festivals. I love watching them from the tower, but sometimes I want to go down and dance and drink and laugh with them. I know I can’t, though.

2. Kiss someone.

1. Travel! I want to explore the world, especially after hearing about all of the amazing things that are out there, waiting. It’s hard, sometimes, being stuck in one place. Maybe one day I’ll discover a way to go to them. Or make them come to me. (Danny tells me that is impossible. I told him he is impossible, and he made a face).