On the Come Up by Angie Thomson

★★★★☆

Brianna wants to be a rap star, but she’s a kid in high school, so people keep telling her to focus on her studies. Her family is poor, though, so making it big would mean they wouldn’t have to struggle for food anymore.

On the surface, this isn’t my kind of book. I don’t particularly listen to rap music, although I’ve warmed up to it more in the past few years than at any other time in my life.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Metamorphosis by Jean Lorrah (March 1990)

★★★☆☆

Back in the 90s, I was full of TNG awe. It’s the first “grown up” TV show I latched onto (my parents watched it by themselves for years because it came on after my bedtime — so I heard the Red Alert noise, the theme music, and other sounds before I ever watched the show).

Also in the 90s, I got into reading with more of my own agency. Sure, I was still in school, and to this day I get cringey when I hear the words “required reading”, but I learned that not all books were mind-numbingly boring, and I looked forward to going to the bookstore for more than just the little toy section.

The Nancy Drew Files were an easy pick for me at the time — they were actually written in the 80s and 90s, as opposed to the “original” series, which was favorable to my boring parents. (Tom Swift IV was another rebooted Stratemeyer Syndicate-adjacent series about a young inventor who did time travel and other cool stuff. I picked that one because they looked enough like Nancy Drew files to pique my interest, and the guy on the cover was handsome. Couldn’t read the Hardy Boys Casefiles, though, because they were for boys. Face-palm emoji.) I liked Sunfire romances (even though I argued profusely they weren’t romances, because for some reason there was a mortal stigma attached to that genre) because their cover artwork was beautiful, and they showcased different eras in such an interesting way. Sure, there was a love triangle, but the stories, man.

Around the same time I started watching TNG (not just listening to it from down the hall), my sister and I discovered a young adult book series about the same characters: Star Trek: The Next Generation – Starfleet Academy. Like it says on the tin.

At the time, there were only two or three books in the series, and we burned through them pretty quickly. Lucky for us, the same authors also wrote for the Star Trek books in the adult section, so on our regular trips to the used bookstore, we picked a few of those up. One of them was Metamorphosis by Jean Lorrah.

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The Sun is Also a Star – Nicola Yoon

★★★★☆

Very briefly, this is a love story about a girl who’s about to be deported that evening, and a boy who’s trying not to let his strict family control his life.

I didn’t know what this book was about before I started reading it, but the pandemic and all … The cover was beautiful and my library had a digital copy.

Of course, immigration woes are a big hit with me, since I’ve seen first-hand what a lot of it looks like. Also, my family was fairly controlling (which in retrospect could have been the cause of the immigration stuff). It was easy for me to identify with the characters.

You know what I’m loving A LOT lately? Books are diversifying their characters so much more than they used to. I remember reading years ago and all the characters were white. Maybe a Black person here and there, but that was it.

THIS BOOK features its two main characters as a Black girl from Jamaica, and a Korean-American boy. White people: don’t be intimidated by shifts like this. You can still see yourself in the characters, because as human beings we all share similar experiences and feelings, AND you’ll learn something new about someone else’s reality.

Daniel and Natasha’s love story flares up quickly, and it’s so sweet. Though it might be unrealistic, it’s a fun read with many ups and downs. The author’s use of POV shifts is uniquely done and easy to follow. I’m looking forward to a second read of this one, and to check out the author’s other book. 

Mini Reviews of Books I Didn’t Love

I usually won’t finish reading a book I’m not into because let’s face it: there are more books available than I’ll ever be able to read in my lifetime. It’s not worth plodding through something unenjoyable. Yes, sometimes a book can make a surprising turnaround halfway through, or the ending redeems the whole thing, and how are you going to know unless you finish? If I think something like that is likely to happen, I’ll push through to the end. Sometimes they don’t deliver, and those books get 2 stars. They had potential, but ultimately disappointed.

Not everything is everyone’s cup of tea. Here are some 2 star books I didn’t love.

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Mini Reviews of Books I Didn’t Like

It’s the one-star edition, folks. I didn’t just not love these books, I disliked them. Many apologies to the authors.

I once had a co-worker berate me because I started reading 50 Shades of Gray, and abandoned it when I found it poorly written and uncomfortable. “How do you know you don’t like it if you won’t even finish??” she kept screaming. Not just the first book, either. Read all three of them. Only then can I hand out criticism.

Sometimes you just know. A few chapters in, and nothing’s happened? Maybe let’s call it a day. Is the protagonist doing something “problematic” and you can’t get on board with rooting for this person? Move on.

For me, a 1 star book is one that had enough pull for me to finish a forth to half of it (the ones where I can’t get past the first few pages, I won’t review at all because something’s so fundamentally not for me, my opinion on it doesn’t matter).

Here are my 1 stars.

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Horrorstör – Grady Hendrix

★★★☆☆

What sold me first on this book is its design. It’s made to look like an IKEA catalog (in fact, when my husband saw this book come in the mail, he said he almost threw it in the garbage because he thought it was a catalog). I purposefully bought the paperback because of the design. Inside are illustrations of fictional pieces of furniture, company mottos, even an order form. A+

The order form is the copyright page
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