Thursday, March 22, 2018

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles Book Review

When Marvin Johnson's twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid.
The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it's up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean.
Tyler Johnson Was Here is a stunning account of police brutality in modern America.

Tyler Johnson Was Here--did not come to be politically correct, or racially ambiguous. Tyler Johnson came to tell an ugly truth, and made no qualms about sharing its blackness, in it's raw and true form.

Tyler Johnson Was Here is an experience I found both realistic and painful. It wasn't very verbose--or even eloquent for that matter. But, it was well-written and specific in it's story telling.

Tyler Johnson was here is about a set of twins, Tyler and Marvin. Marvin and Tyler go to a party--a shooting ensues, and Tyler goes missing. Only to later find out, Tyler was killed by a cop on his way home.

An accurate depiction, of the current race-related police brutality issue--that has plagued the African American community for some time.

What works for this novel, is not that it has some predestined plot, with very specifically placed characters--what works is that it's real.

In that regard, the story works for telling an otherwise unheard of story in a real way. Teenagers, and adults alike will feel the pangs of Marvin's grief in ways that will shatter and change you. As authors continue to approach this subject both cautiously, and incautiously, readers will be changed.

Readers will get to know each character, in an intimate way, allowing for a deeper, more intimate connection with the author, the characters and themselves. The book is genius for the fact that it will tug the heart strings--but most importantly, it will open your eyes.

As I'm finally sitting down to right this review, another unarmed black man was killed--and it's a story I feel completely confident and saddened to say won't change, until the world does. Until the world, truly understands that black lives matter--not specifically because we/they are black but in spite of it.

So many reviews talk about how much better THUG was in comparison to this book, because it was more fleshed out--and had better writing.

Please allow this novel to stand on it's own two feet--because it's strong enough do so--despite it's flaws. 

THUG was good for what it was good for, but Tyler Johnson Was Here, is not meant to simply be a good novel--that people can have cups of tea, and quietly argumentative discussions of and over.

This book is the gritty version of that novel's story , the version I think people need to hear. The truth in all it's ugliness. The truth hurts but it must be told.

Let me also briefly touch on the "romance," aspect of this novel.

I am literally taking the heaviest of sighs, because I read a review that called the romance insta-lovey, and they totally missed the mark here.

Yes, there is romance that blossoms, but the initial companionship is a shared relationship based on grief. There was an understanding among the characters--loss and the feeling of being misunderstood. It was more about Marvin finding someone he could rely on for comfort, that wasn't in his immediate circle. It wasn't about love, and falling in love immediately.

Again, Tyler Johnson Was Here is a needed story. It's realistic, it's raw and unfiltered. It's not THUG.

No matter which you prefer, focus on what's important here--and that is the black lives matter movement, and the validity, and importance of black lives in general.

Read it, because it's important, because you want to--don't look to it for comparisons--and that's all.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

All Of This Is True ARC Book Review by Lygia Day Penaflor--I AM SHOOKETH

Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.

Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . 

This book is like a really wild night on twitter. YA twitter.

Wildly original, thoroughly engrossing, All of This is True did not come to play. 

Told in a series of alternating points of view, through emails, interviews, and journal entries--All of This Is True--is unlike any YA book out there, and it just introduced itself with a loud, booming voice. 


The story is about four teens obsessed with the YA book, Undertow. They agree to go to a book signing with their new friend, Jonah--who's as secretive as he is good-looking. He's new in town--and the girls have sort of adopted him into the fold. They all go to the book signing with not only the intention of meeting their favorite author--but actually becoming friends.

The author although slightly older--is down with being friends, and it happens a little too easily. Secrets are shared, too easily. They spend insane amounts of time with her--and their spilled secrets wind up costing them.

What really works for this books is how well paced it is. You get just enough, at just the right time in the story, to keep yourself engaged from front to back.

The book as mentioned is crazy original. I can honestly say there is nothing like it out there. It's captivating in it's originality--and enthralling in how downright disturbingly juicy it is.

And the story is juicy for sure. It sort of reminds you of a sensationalized story--that plays the episodes in pieces, just to tease you right before the season finale.

This is kind of like that. 

The characters: Although told in alternating perspectives--you do get a true feel for who they are, and that's no easy feat. So kudos to Penaflor for that!

The plot is gripping, and kind of bananas--in the best way possible. There will be things you see coming, but there will be many things you won't.

Overall, the book is very well-written, original, and down right brilliant. 

Recommended for anyone who wants to read something different--that will keep you reading until the very last page. 

Lygia, can I have my wig back--because it has been snatched?

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Missing at 17 by Christine Conradt--I'm Convinced YA Thrillers Were Put On This Earth To Disappoint Me

In this suspenseful and romantic teen thriller based on the “can’t pull your eyes away” series on Lifetime, one girl discovers that no matter how far you run from your problems, they will always find you.

For most of Candace’s life she never felt like she completely belonged. But nothing could prepare her for the shocking discovery that her parents have been concealing the truth about who she is and where she came from her entire life.

Feeling like her world has been turned upside down, and unable to trust the people she’s closest to, Candace runs away...right into the arms of an alluring stranger.

But while Candace and Toby have an undeniable connection, it's less certain what the future holds for them as Candace’s family and Toby’s less-than-legal lifestyle threaten to rip them apart.

As things start to spiral out of control, Candace must fight to understand her own identity...and who she can truly rely on.

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Missing at 17 reads as the lifetime movie it’s mentioned to emulate.

The title and cover are misleading in that they give you this idea—that you’re going to read a story about a girl/guy that’s gone missing—not quite!

The story is a tale of a girl who discovers a shocking secret—that changes the direction of her life. 

She runs away, and in her running—she meets Toby—who seems to get her in a way no one has before.

To call it thrilling or suspenseful—is a reach. No parts of the story are either thrilling or suspenseful. Not quite sure what they were trying to do here.

Candace aka Candy—reacts to a devastating secret by running away and acting out. Her actions are dangerous and not thought through.

Her meeting with Toby—felt like what would be the catalyst for the thrill—but it never came—which to be honest was quite disappointing.

At the core of the story are two people, who are trying to figure themselves out, and where they fit in the world—all the while trying not to lose each other, and this happens in the span of days. It’s quite fast paced in that regard.

As mentioned the book reads as a lifetime movie—the author is noted for having penned films like these for Lifetime and the like.

To be frank the book would have been better portrayed as film. Not because it reads as a script, but because the story itself is pretty one dimensional—being simply read as a novel.

The book is far from the worst, but it just doesn’t do much as a novel.
However, if you’re a Lifetime movie on a Saturday night kind of gal/guy this book is perfect for you. It has all the drama, and angst to meet your needs.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Links by Lisa Becker--A DNF Opinion Piece/Rant

I am a truth teller. I pride myself and my blog on it's honesty--even if some people perceive it as brutality--it might be in the tone of my voice or in the delivery--but my intention is to always be honest. 

There's a fear of honesty, in book blogging--at least for some people. You don't want to ruffle the wrong feathers--because the ARCS may stop coming--or all the peeps will bash you on Twitter--and you'll be forced to go into a perpetual hibernation. 

I, for one don't have that fear. Sticks and stones, folks. 

I say all that to say, that this review comes out of a place of vulnerability, honesty--and a mix of frustration and anger. 

This book was read (half read) quite some time ago--and I was so disturbed that I discussed it with practically anyone I spoke to. 

I mentioned half read because I couldn't stomach any more of it. 

I'm not a sensitive person--I let a lot of things roll of my back--probably more than I should. SOME THINGS DO NOT NEED TO BE IGNORED.

But, I digress. 

This review is happening, so here we go. 

This book was offered me to review by the author--and her intentions may very well be right. But the delivery is all wrong. 

This is your typical romance--girl hates guy--guy hates girl--they fall for each other--because she's secretly perfect--blah, blah, blah. 

That's not the issue. 

The issue was in it's presentation of black people. I AM NOT OBLIVIOUS. I know that my culture is known for walking and coloring outside of the lines in regards to lingo, and fashion. But, I honestly felt like this author perpetuated any and every stereotype she could fathom. 

Her transactions and actions of black people were everything I wanted US to step around.

Upon first meeting of the very first "black" character, the secretary Tamika. She's pure attitude, of the neck snapping and eye-rolling variety. She's rude to the main character right off the bat without having met her. She's described as large, mocha-colored with cold accessing eyes. 

And my eyes became cold and accessing in return. Do you have any idea how hard it is to convince the world that not every black woman--dark-skinned black woman has an attitude. Let me write you a book...

She also goes on to give her a "black name," and describes her nails as pretty much over the top. LOng and bedazzled. I was kind of irritated but I read on. 

She then goes on some frazzled chapters later to talk about the main character's work with her inner city youth writing program.

The kids are Daquan, Nashawn--and whatever stereotyped name can fit on the times new roman 12x12 page. (I'm guesstimating here.) All of the kids come from disenfranchised backgrounds, depravity and sadness. 

One kid who's dressed in a jersey down to his 11-year old ankles--tells the story of his absentee drug dealing father--and I am just completely done. 

Even the kids were hopeless--and I am so disturbed.

I really need you to hear me on this, words have the power to hurt and to uplift.

You can choose to utilize them for good or for bad--that is a conscious decision.

While I like to let a lot roll of my back--I couldn't in this instance let this slide. 


I cannot allow another non person of color to write and share this narrow-minded, and isolated narrative that this is all black people are. 

Loud mouth, attitude--having, depraved, uneducated--and in need of a savior.

Black people of color are painted with the same brush--and have been for some time--especially as of late in literature--and I'm tired of it. 

Open your eyes, do some research--educate yourselves. There's more pages left in the story.

I really need people to take that extra step to do differently. DO *claps* BETTER *claps again*

There are young black children--picking up these books--and I need them to see more than what's being shown here. 

Stop serving this dry, day old toast of a narrative--and make it your business--not to lie, but to be more open--minded, and less ignorant. 

It's 2018, Black Panther is about to make a billion dollars--and I consistently feel like I live in a world where masters and slavery still exist.

I'm weary, tired, and exhausted.

We are capable of doing better than this.

*PS* Feel free to read the book for yourself. I'm in no way shape or form telling you what to read--or how to read it. But I am as always telling you how I felt about it.

*PPS* Yes, I wrote the author to tell her how I felt, and I was not too pleased with her response--I'm not sharing it. Because I said what I said on the matter.

Judge for yourselves.

*PPPS* The parts of the story that I read in my honest opinion aside from every single thing else I felt was not too great. The love interest kept referencing the MC's past as the "unwanted," and it appears to me that he was none-too-quick to move on from that. It felt more like he felt sorry for her--and faulted himself for even slightly liking her. He himself seemed baffled by his feelings for her--based off his teen-aged opinions. The whole story could do better in my opinion, and I'm just saying. It would have probably gotten 2-3 stars if I had completed it. 

Feel free to meet my new signature--courtesy of the ever out-spoken, Nene Leakes.

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Aforementioned book:


Goodreads link to the book:Links by Lisa Becker

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Post in Which I Try to Review Two Books: The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis and Devils & Thieves by Jennifer Rush

The Swimmer. The Rebel. The Nerd.

All Ryan, Harley and Miles had in common was Isaac. They lived different lives, had different interests and kept different secrets. But they shared the same best friend. They were sidekicks. And now that Isaac's gone, what does that make them?

Will Kostakis, award-winning author of The First Third, perfectly depicts the pain and pleasure of this teenage world, piecing together three points of view with intricate splendour.

I think the author wrote this book with his tears--and I don't say that to be funny. This book is sad, like really sad. 

I'm not quite sure what the author's goal was here--but if it was to make me feel sad, for a person and/or persons that do not exist--mention accomplished.

A group of friends lose the one person that keeps them together--and they wander around trying to figure out both the lost of their friend--but also how they still (if at all, if ever) fit together.

 To be fair, the book is written brilliantly, and the characters are awfully realistic.

 Their feelings and emotions really come through. This is however, in my opinion, a mood read. 

While contemporaries have the tendency to be more serious, this is one of those books you need to be in the mood for--otherwise I think there won't be a true appreciation for what the book has to offer. 

Again, the characters are solid, the story moves effortlessly, its just sad, and well--it kind of brought me down--despite the semi-happy ending.

Power corrupts. Magic kills.

Eighteen-year-old Jemmie Carmichael is surrounded by magic in the quiet town of Hawthorne, New York. In her world, magic users are called “kindled,” and Jemmie would count herself among them if only she could cast a simple spell without completely falling apart. It doesn't help that she was also recently snubbed by Crowe—the dangerous and enigmatic leader of Hawthorne’s kindled motorcycle gang, the Devils’ League.

When the entire kindled community rolls into Hawthorne for an annual festival, a rumor spreads that someone is practicing forbidden magic. Then people start to go missing. With threats closing in from every side, no one can be trusted. Jemmie and Crowe will have to put aside their tumultuous history to find their loved ones, and the only thing that might save them is the very flaw that keeps Jemmie from fully harnessing her magic. For all her years of feeling useless, Jemmie may just be the most powerful kindled of all.

What I liked:
The motorcycle club aspect: As a fan of Sons of Anarchy--I love the motorcycle club culture--toss in the magic and I was sold.

The family--This was a tight familial unit--every part moved together with a purpose. Even when there was a spat, they stuck together.

The magic: Magic in books can really be enjoyable--especially when the author makes it feel tangible real the way the author does here. 

Jemmie: Although she doubted herself, she didn't let it stop her from doing what needs to be done. It's admirable.

What I didn't like: This is not really a complaint, more of a want. The romance aspect wasn't a focus, and that was okay--but more would have been nice. But, being that this is a part one--that gives the reader something to hope for, maybe more of Crowe and Jemmie? And answers from that creepy, and sort of open-ended ending.

Expect to hear more from this cast of characters--because there's definitely more to see here.