February Reads – 2018

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I read 4 books in February that were all across different genres. Be sure to follow my adorable book model on Instagram: @tonksreads

Bingo Love by Tee Franklin
finished February 3rd, 2018
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First Sentence: “My parents found out I liked girls, and they kicked me out.”

My take: Bingo Love tells the story of two young women falling in love in a place and time that was not accepting of queer relationships. The story follows their lives as they grow apart and then back together again. The art in this story is stunning. I loved that the main characters were both queer women of color. The story had a ton of heart, but it also felt rushed, simplified, and void of nuance and layers. I wanted their story and their personalities to be flushed out and deep and instead what I got was a predictable plot line. I think maybe if the writer and artists had told this story over a series of books it could have been more effective. There is so much potential here and I enjoyed reading it but I wished for more.

Pages read: 92 pages

My rating: 3/5 stars


If At Birth You Don’t Succeed 
by Zach Anner
finished February 3rd, 2018
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First Sentence: “It’s 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning and I’m bouncing on a trampoline surrounded by a film crew, shouting jokes into a camera.”

My take: Zach is freaking FUNNY. I audibly laughed a lot during this book. At the same time, I felt bogged down with so many details. It often felt that Anner was sharing the the names of every person he’s ever worked him, the names every show he has written and acted in, and the names of every woman he has ever had a conversation with. I felt the book could have been edited and condensed into a more effective, hilarious, and uplifting package. That being said, I am a bigger fan of Anner’s after reading this and I am charmed and uplifted by his message. I’m realizing I’m done with the “celebrity essay” genre unless something particularly remarkable and new comes around.

Pages read: 338 pages

My rating: 3/5 stars

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
finished February 13th, 2018
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First Sentence: “People who move to New York always make the same mistake”

My take: WHAT?! For a book that was so unknown and so short I’m thoroughly horrified and thoroughly impressed. This novella is  dark, gritty, mysterious, gory, unforgiving and unforgettable. A retelling of a racist Lovecraft “The Horror at Red Hook”,  this book is told with lens on past and modern racism and brutality This is a mythical horror fantasy (or weird fiction) for our age. It begs the questions: “What makes someone a monster?” and “Who should we really be afraid of?” Chills everywhere.

Pages read: 149

My rating: 5/5 stars

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood
finished February 22nd
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First Sentence: “In the beginning, you lived inside the Egg”

My take: MaddAddam is the third and final book in the MaddAddam trilogy. The first book, Oryx and Crake, totally shook me up and made me want to read more. The second book was not as good but still interesting. MaddAddam, to me, was the least interesting of the three books but Atwood is such an incredible writer that I couldn’t hate it. It reads as another expansion pack to the first and most interesting book. In the story the God’s Gardeners and the Crakers rebuild society together and tell the stories of the past, passing them down to future generations.  It still had very fascinating and well-written sections but ultimately did not live up to the excellence of the first book. I would highly recommend Oryx and Crake to other readers but I hesitate to recommend the whole series

Pages read: 394

My rating: 3/5 stars

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New Song! Turtles All The Way Down

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6 six years ago John Green released his bestselling book, “The Fault in Our Stars”. I pre-ordered the book and had it delivered to my doorstep the day of its release. I finished the book within 24 hours and within the next two days I had written a song about the book and uploaded it to YouTube. This would go on to become my most popular song (thanks to some help from the Green brothers themselves) so I thought I’d do the same for John’s next book Turtles All the Way Down……..

Except, life’s a lot different now than it was six years ago. I’m no longer a student and have tons of grown up responsibilities and challenges including, ya know, a job and chores and grocery shopping and having a social life and trying to balance everything and AAAAAAAHHHHH ADULTING IS HARD. So, I was not as quick to write and upload the song. (It’s been 4 months instead of 3 days) BUT! I DID IT!!! The song is available for the world!

I love this book and I connect deeply to it. It’s exploration of mental health through the main character Aza is heartbreaking and uplifting and I connect with it on a personal level. I highly recommend this book. My song has TONS of quote spoilers so read the book first. HAPPY READING!! Here’s the song. Lyrics are below!

I’m learning that life is a story about you
It’s not a story you tell
I don’t control the people around me
I barely control myself

If the thoughts that I think are not penned by me
am I truly the author of my own story?
Am I a fictional me?
And can you see the same world I see?

Chorus:
And the thoughts in my head spiral round and around
Ever tightening, gripping, a deafening sound
Can I rise to the surface? Am I destined to drown?
Is my story mine for the telling? Is it turtles all the way down? (x2)

If I can’t choose the picture, then I choose the frame
I choose love. I choose friendship. I choose to battle my brain.
You can love and be loved. Nothing deserved except love.
And when I wonder, when I question, when I laugh, when I cry,
I know love is how you become a person and why

(Chorus)

You are the fire and the water to extinguish
You’re the narrator and the sidekick and the protagonist
You’re the storyteller and the story told
Things grow better, worse, better, worse
As you grow old
And we all do.
You are somebody’s something but you are also your you. (x2)

(Chorus)

January Reads – 2018

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I read 3 books in January and they were all great! Also, follow my adorable book model on Instagram @tonksreads

Comics for a Strange World: A Book of Poorly Drawn Lines
by Reza Farazmand
finished January 7, 2018IMG_20180208_130431_692

First Sentence: We must record everything.

My take: Reza is freaking hilarious. This book is a compilation of many  of his popular web comics, “Poorly Drawn Lines”, plus new comic (and comical!) content. The comics are weird and weirdly relateable. His first compilation was a little stronger but this one was solid and amazing nonetheless and it’s the first book I completed in 2018.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Pages read: 208

The Fifth Season
by N.K. Jemisin
finished January 11, 2018

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First Sentence: Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we?

I heard a lot of praise about this book before I picked it up and well, it’s as good as they say. Warning: once you read the first one you will want to read the sequels. In “the Stillness”, the earth is not very still at all. Not only are their huge earthquakes that practically destroy humanity every other century but there are humans, called orogenes, that are EARTH BENDERS. (kind of, it’s more complex and interesting than that). Society fears and often kills orogenes at birth. This is the most fascinating exploration of prejudice in a fantasy setting that I have ever read. It’s also filled with action, beautiful world building and exceptional, diverse, memorable characters. A fantastic book.

My rating: 5/5 stars

Pages read: 468

The Obelisk Gate
by N.K. Jemisin
finished January 27, 2018

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My take: The sequel to The Fifth Season, this book had a lot to live up to because I was so blown away by the first book. This one was even darker than the first and the characters didn’t go on as exciting of a journey. Having said that, this series is captivating even if I’m a bigger fan of the first book. I’ll be picking up the third very soon!

My rating: 4/5 stars

Pages read: 410