Monthly Reads | March 2019

New segment alert! I absolutely love reading but too lazy to dedicate review posts for every single book I read. Also, maybe because I’m jaded from school book reports but for the life of me, I also can’t write reviews on books, lol. I figured, a monthly round up is the way to go with a few sentences regarding the book!

All links directs to Goodreads.

Black Magick, Vol. 1: Awakening, Part One by Greg Rucka & Nicola Scott (Illustrator)

Rating: 4/5. I’ve been into witchcraft lately and heard about this comic book. Intrigued, I found myself a copy and gave it a read. The illustrations are really cool and I love how Greg has incorporated witchcraft into a modern day. It’s a great story line and very informative for baby witches.

The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1: The Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way (Writer), Gabriel Bá (Artist) & Dave Stewart (Colourist)

Rating: 3/5. I loved The Umbrella Academy on Netflix and wanted to dive more into it. For an entire volume, I felt the story line was moving way too fast and the characters lacked depth. There were a lot of similarities between the comic book and the TV series but overall, I didn’t enjoy the comics as much as I enjoyed the TV adaptation. I suppose I enjoy getting to know my characters a bit more…

Go Eat Worms! by R.L. Stine

Rating: 3/5. This is a Goosebumps classic! I have the entire Goosebumps series and one night felt like reading a Goosebumps book. Yes, they’re written for kids so I tried not to overthink the entire story. The worms were creepy and reading it at night did give me a few chills as R.L. Stine does a great description throughout the book. Otherwise, if you’re a bit older, the narrative gets a bit cheesy, lol.

A Thousand Miles to Freedom: My Escape from North Korea by Eunsun Kim, Sébastien Falletti & David Tian (Translator)

Rating: 2/5. I’ve read a lot of North Korean defectors memoirs and unfortunately, this one falls short. I understand the reality and horror of Eunsun Kim and her family, but unfortunately, I found it hard to connect and truly see and experience what she was going through. It felt as though she was just telling short stories that eventually led her up to where she is now in life. There was no depth to her characters – seriously, what about her sister’s background? She didn’t paint a picture of what North Korea was like, and instead, painted a picture of her years in China. This is a true story so I won’t be too harsh but there are other memoirs to read if you’re ever interested in North Korea.

Hope you guys enjoyed the first installment of monthly reads! It feels so good to get these reviews off my chest, lol.

Have you read any of these books? Got one in mind I should try? Let me know! And, if we’re not friends on Goodreads yet… what are you waiting for?

Book Review: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg

Title: Modern Romance
Authors: Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg
Pages: 277
Published on June 16th, 2015 by Penguin Press
Links: Official Website, Goodreads, Indigo! Chapters, Amazon CA
Summary: Comedian Aziz Ansari takes a complete look on how romance became modern in the world of technology and a new generation. He analyzes the habits of young daters in the hook up world, the apps and websites connecting all of us, and the trends of dating using a smartphone (or any technology/app). There is no longer a “traditional” romance in this era; it’s a modern romance.
Review –
We all know who Aziz Ansari is, right? He’s one of my favourite comedians right now and to find that he released a book this summer, I had to jump on it and grab a copy myself… and it’s by far one my favourite reads this year. Modern Romance is the first novel (to my knowledge and excluding academic papers) to focus on the new relationship between the dating world and smartphones.

How many of you guys tried online dating via a website or an app? How many times have you stared at your phone hoping your crush would call you by now? Text you? How many of us have sent nudies? Nearly all of these trends began only recently (aside from calling) with the increase of technology usage.

Ansari describes these new trends on dating, “modern romance”. Gone are the days we marry our next door neighbours by the age of 19. Gone are the days of “kind men” and date nights. Gone are the days of “traditional” romance.

Mixing his comedic skills, this light read proves all to real in the dating world. Now, note that although Ansari is a comedian, he did put a lot of resources and dedication into conducting his studies for this book, and co-written it with psychologist Eric Klinenberg. So, don’t brush this off as another silly comedy book – it does have some psychology to it.

Through his studies, the two authors shares real life experiences of the dating scene with technologies. He touches base on apps such as Tinder and Grindr, and sites as OKCupid. He analyzes why we take ages to reply to messages, or how some guys come off as rude. Ansari even provides tips on how to text. He explains the transition from traditional to modern romances. He even talks about marriage and arrange marriages.

The novel provides a humongous insight on the dating habits our generation has developed thanks to the usage of our mobile phones. He reflects on dating habits of our generation, eg. putting careers first or waiting until we’re in our 30s to get married.

It’s funny to realize that what we do individually isn’t so insane. It’s a habit, or a reflex that smartphone users developed overtime. Dating in this age is different, and some may say it’s harder than the previous generation.

Regardless, all of us fall under the “modern romance” generation now. If you’re one to use “non-traditional” means of finding love, or more interested in how our generation finds love and approach the dating scene, I definitely recommend picking up Modern Romance. It’s insightful and guarantee to make you laugh!

I picked up the audiobook version which was read by Aziz, himself. If you’re looking for a different experience, try his audiobook. It’s 10x more hilarious than the book since Aziz adds his own commentary and personality.

Rating – 5/5

*Disclaimer: This review was not sponsored by Penguin Press or Aziz Ansari/Eric Klinenberg. It is also not sponsored by any of the corporations the links above leads to. The purchase made for this review came out of my own pocket.

Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Henrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is known to present-day scientists for her cells from cervical cancer. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells were taken without her knowledge and still live decades after her death. Cells descended from her may weigh more than 50M metric tons.

HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave.

The journey starts in the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s, her small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo. Today are stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells, East Baltimore children and grandchildren live in obscurity, see no profits, and feel violated. The dark history of experimentation on African Americans helped lead to the birth of bioethics, and legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of. – Goodreads.

Holy. Moly.

I borrowed this book from my local library and finished it within 2 days. Literally, it’s that big of a page turner!

I’m not going to lie, I know nothing about Science and Biology – I mean, I studied it back in school but it was never my favourite subject. So, naturally, since leaving high school, I don’t have interest in learning about (medical) science.

However, despite this book being based upon biology and science (don’t worry, there’s more dramatic events than pages of pages similar to your bio textbook), I was drawn to it because of the history. I knew nothing about HeLa cells. I was drawn to the history, to this woman named Henrietta Lacks and what was so great about her cells. I was drawn into the 1950s racism issues and how they treated “coloured” people in the past.

Everything that drew me to this book was nothing related to Science, so don’t fear for those who were on the same boat me.

This book makes you feel stuff a normal book normally wouldn’t do. This book made me feel grateful for HeLa cells, it made me angry for the actions Hopkins as done, it made me sympathetic for the Lacks family.

It’s amazing how so many great things came from HeLa cells/Henrietta but it’s such a shame for what the family endured. It sort of breaks your heart to know someone of African descent can be taken advantaged just like that.

I thought Skloot did a wonderful job tracking down and perusing the family for interviews. I loved the pictures and the updates she provided on each character she had written about in the book. These pictures are just regular family pictures but to know their story makes the photos looked… haunted. It’s raw.

I loved the book. Skloot flipped from history and present times and follows a great timeline. She shares intimate details of the family (with their consent). And for those who aren’t great with science, Skloot breaks it down to the most simplest way to understand the cells. It’s raw and real.

I highly recommend this book. Not because your body was once injected with HeLa cells, but to know the woman behind it and her story and tragedies endured just to discovered these cells that gave us the vaccines and knowledge we know of now.

It has nothing to do with science or history but rather to acknowledge who Henrietta Lacks was and her contribution to modern science. Without her cells, a lot of what we know now wouldn’t be available or otherwise be different.

It’s a fantastic read, a quick read that keeps you hooked on pages after pages.

Rating: 5/5

#2014BloggerChallenge – Book Review: Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

Flowers in the Attic on Goodreads

I have never heard of Flowers in the Attic or V.C. Andrews. I guess in my generation, the book (published in 1979) would be considered “too old”. I’ve heard a lot about this book, mostly for its taboo about incest and rape. In today’s modern society, I think this book wouldn’t be deemed as taboo but back in the 80’s, I understand why high schools would ban this book.

However,  the entertainment world has been buzzing over the remake of Flowers in the Attic to a TV movie by Lifetime; it was released on January 18th, 2014. So I ended up watching the movie first before reading the book.

Does it make me a bad or “messed up” person that I fairly enjoyed the movie and the book? I hope not.

Flowers in the Attic is based upon the four Dollaganger kids, Christoper, Cathy, Carrie and Cory. Along with their mother, Corrine, the four of them are forced to live with Corrine’s filthy rich grandparents when their father died in an accident which has forever changed the Dollagangers’ life.

I’m a bookworm and enjoyed the book very much that I finished reading it within 2 days. Because it was written in the 80’s, the style and dialogue used to write this novel is much different than what I’m normally used to. It’s some getting use to but it caught on very quickly after a few chapters.

It’s a page turner. The novel picks up fairly quickly and immediately you can see the character development happening in Corrine and the relationship build up amongst the children. This book has a dark theme, and throughout the novel, you’ll feel disgusted by the plot. It’s amazing to see how Andrews incorporated that into the novel and present such a heartless character and plot. 

Andrews illustrated the novel to the point where you feel like the plot is dancing right in front of you. Each character has a different personality that grows tremendously by the end of the novel. It’s like growing up with the characters as the chapters went by. Every horrific event that happens is so vivid, you can feel the expressions, sadness, and pain through words Andrew has written. The story is told through Cathy’s experiences.

Despite its taboo scenes and topics in this novel, I think it’s a great book. If anything, it’s so hyped up and popularized because of incest and rape. We read books about rape but how often do we read books with incest written in the plot?

If you’re interested in stepping outside the genres of high school romances and hot CEOs, I’d recommend giving Flowers in the Attic a try. It’s a dark twisted novel with secrets that’ll keep you turning the pages for more.

Flowers in the Attic is book 1 out of 4 of the Dollaganger series. I instantly jumped into book #2, Petals on the Wind and it was great but not as great as Flowers in the Attic.

If you’re not one to read, I recommend watching the TV movie produced by Lifetime. 

Book Review: Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America – Les Standiford, Joe Matthews

Click here to view the book on Goodreads.

I just wrapped up Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America written by Les Standiford with Joe Matthews.

This book focusses on the kidnap and murder of Adam Walsh, the son of America’s Most Wanted’s TV Host, John Walsh.

If you are vaguely familiar with the case (don’t worry, I’ve only heard of Adam Walsh years ago), it’s the famous case of the kidnap and murder of 6 years old, Adam Walsh that took place in Hollywood, Florida back in 1981. It was famous because Adam was abducted from a Sears store in broad daylight and it took the Hollywood Police Department more than thirty years to solve (thanks to the help of Detective Sergeant Joe Matthews). Because of Adam’s abduction, the show America’s Most Wanted was born, the Adam Code and many missing/abduction laws were updated. America’s protocols for abducted children the way it is now was shaped from Adam’s case.

This book was recommended to me via Goodreads after I finish reading A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard so if you enjoy reading non-fiction crime novels, Adam’s story might be for you.

When I opened the book, it started fairly well. Straight off the bat, Standiford told the readers why the Walshes went to Sears and what ensued after that between the parents and the police department. It was a page turner, but as soon as Adam’s body was found, I felt the book lost its pace. It started to wind down and before I knew it, I was putting the book down more than I am picking it up. 

I felt as though the author was just putting in filler chapters to make the book longer (and thicker). The chapters of Hollywood PD were completely useless if you ask me. It was extremely repetitive, in terms of how the HPD went about the case and how Adam’s murdered confessed his crime. I know the Adam case was a cold case for decades but how the author went about saying the Hollywood PD reach another dead was getting boring to read.

As an author, I would have interviewed John and Reve Walsh, the parents of Adam. I can only imagine how they feel for decades but I feel as though a book based on Adam should have words from his parents. I want to learn more about the Walshes and how they feel from the bottom on their heart.

Halfway through the book, the author throws in a few picture files that led to the closure of the case. I think I enjoyed that part the most. It was amazing to see the Sears photograph dated back in 1981. I was intrigued by one photo that forever haunts me and the officers involved in the case.

Overall, I thought this book would be more fast paced with details and heart breaking words. In the end, it was just a novel filled with filler chapters to prolong the novel. Yes, there were sections I’ve turned page and page but it still didn’t live up to my expectation. I rarely fall asleep reading but this book managed to do so (in no disrespect towards Adam and the Walshes). 

If you want to learn more about Adam, I think a Google search will do fine. I wouldn’t recommend this book, I’m sorry.

Score: 2/5 

*Disclaimer: This is not a paid review. The opinions
written above is based on my own experiences provided by my own money. I
am no way affiliated with the company in any way.