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Book Review: Mama Flora’s Family

Mama Flora's Family Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

In the tradition of “Roots” and “Queen,” Mama Flora’s Family” is a sweeping epic of contemporary American history, culled from the unpublished works of award-winning writer Alex Haley. It is the poignant story of three generations of an African-American family who start out as destitute sharecroppers in Tennessee. Mama Flora is the heart and strength of the family, shepherding her children through hard times after the murder of her husband by white landholders. She has passionate ambitions for her son Willie, but he dashes her dreams by abandoning his church-going roots and moving to Chicago. After fighting in the Second World War, he marries his childhood sweetheart and struggles to build a new urban life for his family.

Flora’s dreams are realized by Ruthana, her sister’s child, whom Mama Flora adopts. Ruthana graduates from college, and as a social worker in Harlem, counsels underprivileged women. Through her love for the radical poet Ben, Ruthana begins to understand her heritage, and after a sojourn in Africa comes to a redemptive understanding of herself.

In Chicago, Willie’s twin son and daughter embrace Muslim militancy and Black Power, and eventually, drugs on their rocky road through the 1960s. Mama Flora struggles to maintain her family, but she also is caught up in the turbulent times. “Mama Flora’s Family” is an American tale as dramatic and touching as anything Alex Haley ever wrote.

Highly recommended read by the love of my life, Mama Flora’s Family tells the story of three generations in one African American family. It’s a story that makes you reflect on America’s past, about a time that isn’t that long ago. For me, it made me feel sympathetic to Mama Flora and her family because I know I’ll never understand what it’s like to face such strong racism because of the color of my skin. But reading this story from her family’s perspective and the different conflicts they had to endure made me briefly feel like I could understand what they were going through and wish things were different during that time for them.

What I especially enjoyed about reading this book was that the story wasn’t just told from Mama Flora’s perspective. You as the reader had different family members sharing their own stories, talking about their own struggles and challenges they are enduring during this time. I especially enjoyed reading the chapters that were told from Ruthana and Willie’s perspective because they both had interesting lives that I enjoyed reading about. I also loved it too because I loved all of these characters, which made me enjoy reading this book, even more, to see what happened to this family.

I also enjoyed reading Mama Flora’s Family because I found myself learning more about America during this time. Especially because I learned more about black history, something that’s never fully taught in school. I especially loved learning about black culture, reading about the different styles of clothing and hair that changed as time went on and how Mama Flora and her family reacted to these changes. As someone who typically doesn’t read historical fiction of any kind because it doesn’t interest me all that much, I found the story of this family to be a fantastic read and it made me interested in wanting to learn more.

The only criticism I have with this book is that I sometimes found the story at times to be a little too preachy. While I completely understand the reasoning behind this, since Mama Flora herself was very strong in her faith and it was such a big part of her life that she raised her family to have a strong faith foundation. I don’t personally have a problem with that, even though I myself am still working on my own beliefs and what I personally believe to be true when it comes to faith and religion. I just think at times there was just too much of it in the story.

But overall, I really enjoyed reading Mama Flora’s Family. Mama Flora and her family dealt with quite a lot during that time and it was nice to see how they handled those difficult moments. I also enjoyed reading this book because I learned so much from it despite historical fiction not being something I personally enjoy reading. It made me as a reader consider reading more stories like this because I love learning and enjoy reading about real struggles people deal with in life.

I really appreciate my partner recommending this read to me and highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about black history. For those wanting to read about what black families go through when it comes to racism. It opened my eyes further to issues I know I myself will never have to deal with.

Book Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #3)

always and forever lara jean

Rating: 4 stars

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

I really enjoyed reading this concluding book in this series just as much as I enjoyed P.S. I Still Love You, but for different reasons. While I didn’t want this book to end, I felt like this book was the perfect way to end the series because of it being Lara Jean’s last year of high school before she goes off to college.

It continues to tell the story of Lara Jean’s relationship with Peter, but also focuses a whole lot more on the pressure of getting into college and what comes with that. When Lara Jean doesn’t get into the college of her dreams, she faces a dilemma she didn’t expect. I enjoyed seeing that conflict with her because I felt like it was a realistic problem that I’m sure other teens applying to colleges experience. Part of senior year of high school is beginning the journey of adulthood and I felt like with Always and Forever, Lara Jean, Jenny Han tackled the subject very well when it came to Lara Jean’s beginning journey into adulthood.

I also appreciated seeing how talking about college impacted Lara Jean’s relationship with Peter. Especially because they both wanted to go to college together since they were planning on continuing their relationship after high school. While Lara Jean didn’t handle her plans changing very well at first, when she discovered another college that was very similar to the school she originally wanted to attend, I thought it was wonderful that she made the decision to go to that school. For once in these books, she actually made a big decision for herself instead of taking the easy road to get what she wanted. Seeing Lara Jean struggle with her decision on where she was going to college when her original plans failed reminded me of what the pressure of choosing college was like for me. While I can’t say my experience was anything at all like Lara Jean’s (because it definitely wasn’t), I felt like I could relate to her character when it came to college because that’s a big decision for a person to make for themselves.

What I also liked when reading Always and Forever, Lara Jean was that you as a reader slowly saw Lara Jean make big decisions. While she’s still pretty far from acting like an adult, I felt like she was finally maturing a little bit in this book. For once, she was finally making decisions for herself, not because her family and friends wanted her to make those choices.

My biggest criticism for this book would have to be the lack of conflict in it. While I sometimes didn’t mind because it made this book a fun, light read like the others, I felt like there should’ve been something more. I mean, yes there was conflict when it came to Lara Jean going to college and how her final decision impacted her relationship with Peter, but that was really it when you actually think about it. There wasn’t really a whole lot else going on that really caused conflict in the story and that did bother me a little bit because it was like certain characters who were featured in the previous two books never existed.

But overall, I still enjoyed reading Always and Forever, Lara Jean. As a whole, I enjoyed reading all of these books in this series because they were a light and easy read for me to get through. I also enjoyed seeing Lara Jean’s family dynamics and how close she is to her two sisters as well as her relationship with her friend Chris and boyfriend Peter. I enjoyed reading them as well because they reminded me of what it was like when I fell in love for the very first time and reminded me of what choosing a college was like for me. My biggest criticism for this series as a whole is the lack of character development, especially in the main character Lara Jean. She still has a whole lot of growing up to do, but I still find myself liking her anyway.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading this series and recommend it to anyone looking for something light and easy to read. But I recommend caution to anyone who reads these books that’s just gotten out of a relationship and is still dealing with that heartbreak.

 

Book Review: P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #2)

p.s. i still love you book cover

Rating: 4 stars

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter. She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever. When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times best seller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

I definitely enjoyed reading P.S. I Still Love You better than To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Like its predecessor, I found this book easy to read through. But I found myself even more invested in what’s going on because I found the story and plot itself more invigorating.

What I believe helps is that you continue to see Lara Jean coming more and more out of her shell as her relationship with Peter grows. It’s like their relationship really brings her to life and I enjoyed every minute of it. I think what helps for me as a reader is that I can relate to Lara Jean’s feelings because I’ve had those feelings myself. The first time you fall in love is one of the most wonderful feelings and this book reminded me of everything that comes along with it, including the most difficult moments of a relationship. While I’m no longer with the first guy I fell in love with, this book still allowed me to relate to it because of those feelings. It allowed me to reminisce without feeling sadness and regret over a relationship I’ve since moved on from and reminded me that you can find love again even after the heartbreak.

Like with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, this book continues to portray good, realistic relationships. I continue to love seeing the bond Lara Jean has with her family, her relationship with her best friend Chris, and her relationship with her boyfriend Peter. I also love seeing the new relationship she begins to form with John, one of the recipients of her love letters even though it doesn’t turn out the way you as the reader expect. You finally get to see how the letters getting out really affects her relationships and I enjoyed it.

If I have any criticisms for P.S. I Still Love You it’s that you don’t really get to see her relationship with John go anywhere. You can tell as a reader that feelings are going on between the two of them, but you don’t really see it turn into anything. While I understand why that’s the case, I actually wouldn’t have minded too much to see more interactions between the two of them. While I love Lara Jean’s relationship with Peter a lot, I wouldn’t have minded seeing her give John a chance and seeing where that went. Because I honestly really like John’s character a lot. So, I think my biggest criticism is actually that I think both Peter and John are good guys for Lara Jean and am struggling with which guy I think is truly right for her.

So, I overall loved reading this book a lot more than To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before because you see her relationships with everyone she’s close to growing and you can truly see Lara Jean falling in love. But I also love that the story realistically portrays first love, which is something I can truly relate to because of my own experiences. I just didn’t like that both of the guys she ends up liking are both likeable because it makes me as a reader have a difficult time choosing which of the two guys she should end up with. I can’t wait to finish reading Always and Forever Lara Jean, even though I know I’ll be sad that I’ll be done reading this trilogy.

I definitely recommend reading P.S. I Still Love You because it’s such a good read. But if you’re just getting out of a relationship, then this book might not be for you.

 

Book Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1)

to all the boys i've loved before book cover

Rating: 3 stars

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

I found this book to be an enjoyable read for me because it was easy to get through. What made the story so simple to me is that it mostly centered around one character’s daily life and the challenges she was experiencing. It was the story of an ordinary girl, her relationship with her family and how she navigated high school when she discovered that the letters she’d secretly written about the boys she once loved were sent to them without her knowledge. I found this premise interesting, which allowed me to continue turning the page to find out what happened next with Lara Jean.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was also a good read for me because I loved seeing the relationship Lara Jean had with her two sisters Margot and Kitty, her friend Chris, and one of the guys she once cared for Peter. While the story overall doesn’t have too much character development, I feel like you as the reader truly see how Lara Jean interacts with the people she’s close to. You see this in her treatment of her two sisters who she’s been close to over the years due to their mother’s sudden death. I really appreciate this close-knit sibling relationship in this young adult book because you don’t often see these types of relationships with family in this genre. I also enjoyed her relationship with both Chris and Peter because I feel like you get to see Lara Jean’s character come out a little whenever she’s around these two in the story. And that was nice to me because there’s very little of her character that you truly see.

That’s one of my biggest criticisms of this book, not feeling like we as readers get to know Lara Jean. Even though this book is from her perspective, I still feel like I don’t truly understand her character and why she reacts the way she does in the story. In a lot of ways, it made it hard for me to like her character, even though I can relate to her a little bit. She just seemed way too standoffish, to the point where she couldn’t handle normal everyday things. But at the same time, I found myself sympathetic to her most of the time because I felt truly sorry for her.

However, my biggest complaint of this book is that I don’t really feel like it followed the central plot: Lara Jean’s letters that were sent to the guys she loved. The story doesn’t really focus on the letters all too much other than her reaction to finding out they were sent out and her freaking out about one particular person getting a letter. Other than that, the story continues on, as if the letters were never sent out in the first place. Then again, I honestly believe the feelings she had for these guys wasn’t actual love, but feelings a girl gets when she has a big crush on someone. Maybe that’s what made it difficult for me to believe the way the guys reacted to the letters and how Lara Jean handled the whole situation. I guess I’m just surprised these letters didn’t play more of a role in the overall story arc, which made me like the book a little less. What also didn’t help was that it was fairly obvious from the beginning who sent them out in the first place.

But despite my two main criticisms with this book, I still enjoyed reading To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. It was such an easy read and I wanted to see how Lara Jean’s relationships continued to evolve that I couldn’t help but turn the page to see what happened next. I hope that P.S. I Still Love You gives me a better chance to learn more about Lara Jean’s character and is just as easy of a read.

OnlineBookClub.org Book Review: Isabella’s Painting (Karina Cardinal Mystery #1)

Isabella's Painting Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=87551

I was going to in my next book review for OnlineBookClub.org put some of my first couple paragraphs from my review on the site on my blog post and then link to the review. However, in order for me to do so, I’d need to get in contact with someone from the site to make sure that was okay.

But when I actually did that, my message never went through to the person I was trying to send it to. I don’t know why because I put a lot of effort into writing that message. I found out because whenever I didn’t hear back from them I went into my Inbox and discovered that the PM never went through. Once I found out that happened, I was going to attempt to send another message. But right now, I quite frankly just wanted to put up my review on the site for you all to go check out sooner rather than later. And I just didn’t feel like spending another ten minutes working on another private message for it not to go through once again.

As a result, I have provided another link to a review I’ve written on OnlineBookClub.org. I’ll try sending a private message again later whenever I have the energy for it so that with these reviews in the future you can catch a glimpse of a little of what I’ve written. But until I’m able to get permission from the site, this is what I’m going to continue having to do.

Until then, please read my review and share it if you really like it. That would mean so much to me.

Also, I have some really exciting news I’m planning on sharing with you all on my next blog post. It’s personal/life stuff so I’m going to write a new blog post about it once the excitement of it wears off for me.

Until then, I hope you all have a good day today and enjoy my review!

Book Review: Dark Places

Dark Places Book Cover

Rating: 2 stars

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

I know a lot of people won’t be too pleased about my thoughts and feelings with this book. But I didn’t enjoy reading this book as much as other people did so I’m sticking by that.

However, before I get into all of my criticisms with Dark Places, let me start by saying that there are some aspects of this book I did enjoy. For one, I think the storyline was fascinating to read. A story about a woman whose whole family was murdered in their home and the surviving family member points to her brother being the murderer is a story that interested me. Especially as she begins feeling doubtful about her original statement to the police and investigates to find the truth. I usually enjoy stories like this where the protagonist goes undercover to find out what really happened. But there are several factors with this story that lead to me not enjoying it, which I’ll talk about shortly.

I also enjoyed the writing in this story. In particular, the different points of view in the story where the author shifts from present day Libby to Ben’s perspective before the murders happened. I found that it helps supply the reader with more information about what actually happened as well as introduces the reader to key characters who play a crucial role in the events leading up to the murders. You learn what life was like for Libby before these events happen and how this moment changed her life completely.

However, I still didn’t enjoy reading Dark Places despite the interesting storyline and alternative points of view. While I admit I did enjoy the storyline, I did also find it lacking in depth as well. What I didn’t enjoy about it was the mystery surrounding the murders and how the truth was revealed. I was hoping that the story would provide a twist that as a reader would make everything I read in the story click together and everything I didn’t like about this book would make sense. Instead, once the truth was revealed, I was left feeling disappointed in the story I was reading.

What didn’t help was that I found myself disliking all of the characters in the story. Especially the character whose supposed to be the protagonist in this book Libby. But she’s actually an unreliable narrator who admits that she lies, and as a reader you witness her stealing from people as she’s investigating the death of her family members. I also found her unlikeable because she came across as being a very selfish person throughout the story. When she met the various members of the Kill Club, all she cared about was knowing if a lot of the members were really interested in what happened to her and her family instead of asking whether they actually had any good theories on who killed her family. There’s also the fact that she’s upset when people pay attention to other cases instead of hers and she doesn’t want to do any sort of work to help herself get money until she’s asked by the Kill Club to uncover the truth of her family’s murder. But she only does it in the first place because they offer to pay her for talking to certain people.

I was hoping Dark Places would redeem her character by making her be the murderer because that would’ve at least made this book more enjoyable for me to read. Instead, we have other characters who play a role in her family’s death and the reasoning behind it all is completely senseless. I was also hoping to have at least one character in the story that I actually liked, but wasn’t too surprised when that didn’t happen either. While I found Libby being an unreliable narrator an interesting choice for the story, I felt like it didn’t really go anywhere to make this book a worthwhile read. I also felt the same way about the mystery surrounding her family member’s deaths because nothing worthwhile happened in this story that resulted in them dying.

As a result, I wasn’t particularly fond of Dark Places. There was just too much disappointment with everything for me with regards to this book for me to even give this book a higher rating. In fact, I would’ve given this book a one star rating if I hadn’t finished reading it. Nonetheless, I finished this book and am disappointed by what I read because I was expecting more from the story than was given.

 

 

OnlineBookClub.org Book Review: Escape (30th Century Trilogy #1)

Rating: 3 stars

https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=85188

Like with my last OnlineBookClub review, I’d really appreciate it if you shared this one too.

Thank you very much, and happy reading!

OnlineBookClub.org Book Review: The Altitude Journals

Rating: 4 stars

https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=83983

Hello everyone! I hope today has been a really good day for you.

So, I have some exciting news to share with you all. I’ve been looking into sites that pay writers for book reviews because I need the extra money and think it would be good experience for me. That’s when I stumbled upon OnlineBookClub.org and decided to at least give it a try and see how it goes. So far, it’s been a good experience for me because they have daily giveaways where you have the chance to win a book or Amazon gift cards. I’ve already won two books from it so far and I think it’s a nice site that allows you to see a variety of different books to read. But, I haven’t been on the site for too long yet so I’m just waiting to see how the reviews I write go first before making any real decisions on whether I’ll stick with it or not.

I turned in my first review for the site yesterday. When I woke up this morning, I checked the status of it and it’s officially been published on the site. The link I have posted at the very beginning of this entry is where you can go to check out my review.

If you’re reading this and your an OnlineBookClub.org member, I’d appreciate it if you left a comment or shared the post so that others can read it. The same goes if your not a member, but are interested in checking the site out. Any feedback for me is deeply appreciated because I want to continue learning and growing as a writer.

I’d also like to say doing reviews on OnlineBookClub.org does not mean I won’t be posting any of my reviews that aren’t on the site here. I’ll still continue to write on this blog whenever I can because I love being on this space. There’s no way I’m leaving WordPress anytime soon. I’ll just be posting those review links here as well with “OnlineBookClub.org Book Review” as the title so you’ll know which of my reviews are on their site.

Thank you all for your understanding and happy writing!

Book Review: As Old As Time

As Old As Time

Rating: 3 stars

What if Belle’s mother cursed the Beast?

Belle is a lot of things: smart, resourceful, restless. She longs to escape her poor provincial town for good. She wants to explore the world, despite her father’s reluctance to leave their little cottage in case Belle’s mother returns—a mother she barely remembers. Belle also happens to be the captive of a terrifying, angry beast. And that is her primary concern.

But Belle touches the Beast’s enchanted rose, intriguing images flood her mind—images of the mother she believed she would never see again. Stranger still, she sees that her mother is none other than the beautiful Enchantress who cursed the Beast, his castle, and all its inhabitants. Shocked and confused, Belle and the Beast must work together to unravel a dark mystery about their families that is twenty-one years in the making. 

 As Old As Time is the story of Beauty and the Beast where Belle’s mother ends up being the Enchantress who curses the Beast before Belle stumbles upon the castle to find her missing father. It details the story of how Belle’s father Maurice and the Enchantress/Rosalind meet. But the story also shifts to present day where Belle is trapped in the cursed castle with the Beast and they work together to find out what happened to Belle’s mother in the hopes of breaking the curse.

I find this adaptation of Beauty and the Beast to be an enjoyable read. As this tale is one of my favorites, I find the way they’ve twisted this story to be extremely fascinating to explore. I loved seeing the story develop on its own once we got past all of the parts that were already familiar to us.

Especially because I felt like I could believe Belle’s mother was the Enchantress that cursed the Beast. To me, it makes a lot of sense with the way the original tale is written and the way it’s incorporated into this book fits it perfectly. So much mystery surrounds Belle’s mother in the original story so by making her the Enchantress, I feel like some of what happened in the tale can be explained.

I feel like a lot of people (and when I mean people, I mean the reviews I checked out on GoodReads) heavily criticized As Old As Time, especially the ending. Without giving too much away, the story doesn’t end at all like what we’ve been used to because of the Disney adaptation of the story. But personally, I was perfectly okay with the way this adaptation ended. Not because I don’t love the Disney adaptation, but because I don’t mind seeing a story I love change and have a different ending than what everyone else expects and is used to. Most fairy tales don’t truly have happy endings so I don’t see why this one would be any different. If anything, I like seeing a different ending for this story because this story isn’t the same one we’re used to enjoying. It’s completely different from the Disney adaptation and as such, I’m perfectly fine that the ending changed along with the story too. Yes, there are some things within it that could’ve been better written or explained, but I enjoyed it so I’m not going to complain.

However, there are some things about this Beauty and the Beast adaptation that I didn’t particularly enjoy. While I loved learning more about the past and why Belle’s mother disappeared, I didn’t truly believe in the love between the Enchantress and Maurice. I just didn’t feel like it was fleshed out well enough to make the reader truly believe the two of them would be together.

I think part of my struggle in believing in that relationship comes from that none of the characters in As Old As Time are really well developed. Yes, most readers of this story are already familiar with most of it, but I feel like that doesn’t mean Liz Braswell couldn’t have done something to make everyone seem more interesting.

I also think there was too much of the Disney adaptation in this story. Especially in the beginning whenever we are being introduced to everyone and just starting to read this book. While at times I didn’t mind because I was already familiar with the story, I didn’t think this book would do that. It made me believe that this book was just going to be a book version of the Disney film instead of a completely different story entirely. While I wouldn’t have minded that, I feel like I would’ve been completely disappointed if that had been the case.

So overall, I enjoyed reading As Old As Time. I found the twists within the story to be absolutely delightful and the ending to me was what I truly expected from this adaptation of the fairy tale. But while I enjoyed reading about what happened before Belle entered the castle, I didn’t completely believe in Maurice’s relationship with the Enchantress. I also feel like none of the characters were very well developed, just there to make the scenes in the story unfold and felt too much of the Disney adaptation in the beginning of the story. So while I enjoyed reading this book, there were definitely some things about it that needed to be changed. Nonetheless, I still recommend this book to anyone who loves Beauty and the Beast but want them to be open minded about how the story plays out.

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