Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"The Autobiography of Malcolm X" - Book Review


If there was any one man who articulated the anger, the struggle, and the beliefs of African Americans in the 1960s, that man was Malcolm X. His autobiography is now an established classic of modern America, a book that expresses like none other the crucial truth about our times.

"Extraordinary. A brilliant, painful, important book."

Back story:
For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by history, both the good and the ugly. I first heard the name Malcolm X in elementary school when we were learning "This day in history" and it was February 21st; the day Malcolm X was murdered.
Throughout my educational career history was the class that I felt most inclined to learn, for those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. One thing that angers me to this day is that every year our history teachers would gladly teach us all about "American" history, by that I mean that they went into depth about white immigrant struggles, the industrial revolution and the like yet quickly skimmed over Native American history and African American history within a week, sometimes in a time frame even shorter than that.
In the sixth grade during our week of learning a summarized, dumbed-down version of African American history I asked my teacher after class if we were going to learn about Malcolm X. With unmasked disgust she said, "He was a bad man". That greatly confused me because I remembered a moment on the first episode of one of my favorite shows The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when Uncle Phil and Will were having a disagreement about how Will thought his uncle forgot his roots since he lived in an upper class neighborhood:

 "You have a nice poster of Malcolm X on your wall. I heard the brother speak," he replies. "I know where I came from." 
(The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, pilot episode)

Malcolm X was always celebrated on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and I was confused as to why they would say such good things about him if my teacher stated he was a 'bad man'. Later on I came to learn a couple of history teachers I've had over the years were prejudiced and sometimes manipulated history in favor of white people as they taught us. Because Malcolm had been racist during a portion of his life they condemn him. They don't give him credit for becoming a better man and changing his views. However, how many of my teachers told us we should have such love and adoration for our founding fathers and be grateful to them. How many of our founding fathers owned slaves and were openly racist? How many of our founding fathers allowed the terrible act of enslaving human beings, genocide, the stealing of land from the Native Americans, and segregation and discrimination to occur during their presidencies? And yet, we were taught to believe that they were such good men almost to the point of being superhuman. 
I have never been one to let people tell me how or what to think. Just as Malcolm so eloquently stated; "Despite my firm convictions, I have been always a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth." I too always research for the truth. Once in a college level history class - imagine! - my teacher denied the genocide against the Native Americans that was done on our very soil and said that Christopher Columbus never did anything wrong and was one of the greatest men to ever live. I'm very slow to anger but that day I was red in the face and my fists were clenched as I and a few of my fellow classmates strongly disagreed with her ignorance in front of the rest of the class. I wanted to rip the textbook she assigned apart, for there are very few things I despise more than people trying to cover up the truth. 
 I've wanted to read The Autobiography of Malcolm X for so many years but every time I searched for it in shops or at the library I was always short in money or the book had been checked out or destroyed. I just wish I would have read this book sooner, preferably in middle school when I faced a lot of racism being a minority of mixed race as well as being an American Muslim in post 9/11 America. Reading about Malcolm's struggles and his undying determination to fight ignorance would have been great for me to read knowing that I could relate to someone who understood fully what it's like to face racism, bigotry, and blind seething hatred on a daily basis. 

My Review:

Upon recommendation by a human rights and environmental protection blogger that I have grown to respect and adore I decided to read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. He's always going on and on about how wonderful Malcolm was and I wanted to see for myself what all of the hullabaloo was about.  
As Malcolm says halfway through his autobiography you cannot truly understand someone and why they may be the way they are unless you know their entire life's story. Malcolm has been considered a very controversial historical figure in both American and world history. 
His life story is one of suffering, recklessness, anger, hatred, self-discovery, awakening, and ultimately enlightenment. He went from dealing drugs and hustling prostitutes to prison to becoming one of the most influential black leaders in African American history. Having only gone up to the 8th grade he explains how he had a "homemade" education in his prison cell and worked hard to become the highly intelligent man that he was before his untimely death.  He tells his story with a strong voice and poignant speech. Malcolm always spoke with great passion fueled by his anger at the barbaric conditions of a society controlled by racism. He was known for his shock-factor way of speaking. Reading just how powerful his writing was I wish I could have heard the brother speak in real life. 
From the very first sentence I knew that Malcolm's life was worth being documented because as he mentions numerous times throughout the autobiography his life is an example of what the ghetto can do to someone. Malcolm X was a great man and is such a misunderstood historical figure. He made mistakes, trusted the wrong people, and at times in his life had really closed-minded and hateful mentalities. However, Malcolm changed his hateful perspective and was not too proud of a man to admit when he was wrong and apologize sincerely. 
This book brought to light so many issues with American society that most like to brush beneath the rug. Things have come so far from where they were in 1950 America, but there are still remnant race issues today. The Autobiography of Malcolm X is now one of my top 5 favorite books, it has inspired me and given me courage. It wasn't mandatory for us to read in school, we were always obligated to read books about white immigrant suffering but any books regarding African American history were "optional" or most often, not even available. I think The Autobiography of Malcolm X should be a mandatory book to read because it perfectly explains the African American struggle that must never be forgotten. 
I now understand why the aforementioned human rights blogger always talked so highly of Malcolm, who now I consider one of my role models. Not just because he was a minority, or an American Muslim, but because he was an amazing human being that worked hard to fight the oppression of people, and never stopped bettering himself as a person. His life ended way too soon just as his philosophy was achieving wondrous heights, and it's sad knowing he could have accomplished so much more greatness. But his legacy and words will live on and continue to be an inspiration to all humans who strive for equality for all mankind.


"Safekeeping" - Book Review


Radley just wants to get home to her parents in Vermont. While she was volunteering abroad, the American People's Party took power; the new president was assassinated; and the government cracked down on citizens. Travel restrictions are worse than ever, and when her plane finally lands in New Hampshire, Radley’s parents aren’t there.

Exhausted; her phone dead; her credit cards worthless: Radley starts walking.

My Review:

With the peak of the dystopian young adult book genre in full swing a lot of  authors have followed a trend to appeal to the masses. Many of the stories have a young female protagonist going against some form of societal oppression whilst dealing with the overly-cliche love triangle-riddled plot-line. Safekeeping is not like that. Karen Hesse did a wonderful job going against the current and writing her own original dystopian novel.
Safekeeping is a story about taking initiative among uncertainty, survival, and the selflessness of taking care of your loved ones amid tragedy by putting their needs before your own. Radley was a character conjured with depth. Her thoughts and behaviors were ideal for a teenager being put into the situation she was put into, and not once did I feel like the author -an adult- was trying too hard to sound like a teenager. Hesse succeeded in making Radley real, flawed, and like-able.
This novel was definitely thought-provoking in making you wonder what you would do if you were put into the same situation. Personally, I probably would have done the exact same things as Radley. Compared to other dystopian novels out there, Safekeeping was the most plausible- in the way that it's much more likely for the United States president to be assassinated than for a zombie apocalypse or an invasion of cyborg mummies to occur. I enjoyed this book and would gladly recommend it to anyone looking for a light read. The beautiful photographs dispersed throughout the novel really brought the vivid journey to life. 


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Feeling Unaccomplished

Nearing the end of the year it is apparent that I have not met my reading goal for 2013. I had planned on reading 40 books this year but so far I've only been able to read 25 and there are only seven days left until it's 2014.

 I know that I haven't been slacking off and have a very good reason for why I was unable to read my desired number of books, but still I feel so unaccomplished. Medical school is hard and it takes up almost all of your time and steals away your life. Next year, now knowing that my time isn't as plentiful as I'd like it to be, I will only set a goal for 20 books. Hopefully, I'll be able to manage enough time throughout the 365 days of 2014 to read 20 literary works.


and to all a good night! 

"The Dangerous Days of Daniel X" - Book Review

The greatest superpower of all isn't to be part spider, part man, or to cast magic spells–the greatest power is the power to create.

Daniel X has that power.

Daniel's secret abilities–like being able to manipulate objects and animals with his mind or to re-create himself in any shape he chooses–have helped him survive. But Daniel doesn't have a normal life. He is the protector of Earth, the Alien Hunter, with a mission beyond anyone's imagining.

From the day that his parents were brutally murdered before his very eyes, Daniel has used his unique gifts to hunt down their assassin. Finally, with the help of The List, bequeathed to him in his parents' dying breath, he is closing in on the killer.

Now, on his own, he vows to carry out his father's mission–and to take vengeance in the process.

My Review:

After the first two weeks of Vet school I realized that I wasn't able to read as much as I wanted to. Reading is very important to me so I decided that since I had an hour of commute time to and from school every day I'd get an audiobook to listen to on the way to school and on the way home. It was such a good idea!
James Patterson has a really cute way of writing that has such a nostalgic feeling to it, not to mention his sense of humor, though some may consider corny, is pretty funny. Daniel X was no exception.
I really liked Michael Ledwidge's narration of the book. He had really cool accents and voices he made to differenctiate between characters. 
Daniel X is a story about survival, humanity, and fighting with all you have to defeat evil. A few things about Daniel X are very cliche (but I enjoy some cliches hence why I like Patterson's writing) and fun. This book was definitely written for kids around the 6-8th grade level. It was a cute story and defintely made me laugh a few times. Maybe one day I might read the next book in the series.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

"The Perks Of Being A Wallflower" - Book Review

Charlie is a freshman.

And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

My Review:

I'm not even entirely sure where to begin with this book. Though this book was only 213 pages it took me over a week to read it. That's not a good thing. I was really looking forward to reading this book because of everyone raving about it so much. I'm an avid tumblr user and for the longest time you could not scroll down your dashboard without encountering a quote or picture from The Perks Of Being A Wallflower movie. When movie adaptations are made from books I try to read the book first before watching the movie. This was a case where I actually saw the movie first but I'm glad I did because if I had read the book first I would not have even thought about watching the movie afterwards.
It was like Chbosky was trying to squeeze as much heavy subject material as possible into this little book. Like he was trying to make The Perks Of Being A Wallflower really heavy but in the end it just turned the book into a drag to read. Drugs, sex, rape, child molestation, underage drinking, homosexuality, and pretty much anything else considered as 'heavy subject material' will most likely be found within the covers of this tiny novel. Normally, I don't mind reading books with heavy subject material but this book be quite frank, was ridiculous to me because of the fact that it was touching all of these subjects all at once and not concentrating very long on any of them for a long enough period of time. Basically the best metaphor I can think  of for this book would be this; The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is much like a glass of water with a drop put in it of a bunch of different colors of dye, there are so many different dye colors going on it just turns a slightly murky color.
The only things about Charlie that I could relate to were the feeling of not belonging anywhere and the depression/anxiety. Back in my freshman year of high school, much like Charlie, my depression and anxiety were at an all time high due to a number of things. Chbosky did a good job capturing depression like an ever-present darkness that follows you and consumes you at any given moment, and how it's so hard to try and escape it because it disables you to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I can count on my hand the number of moments in the book that I actually did like. Another thing that really annoyed me about this book was the fact that someone, some character, was crying on almost every page. You can't flip a page without seeing 'he cried' or 'she cried' or 'I cried'. It's somewhat understandable that Charlie cries a lot due to certain aspects of the novel that I won't disclose to prevent spoilers, but even then this book gives Charlie the emotional range of a cucumber. He's either feeling a bittersweet kind of happy or he's crying. Most of the time in this book he's crying.
Even though I don't have very many good things to say about this book I will say that the movie was really good and I really enjoyed it. As both a movie and book lover I think it's really sad when a movie adaptation is either way better than the book or is so terrible it's a disgrace to the book. In the case of The Perks Of Being A Wallflower it's the first case. All I know is that I didn't enjoy this book enough to not read another one of Stephen Chbosky's books, that's for sure.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

New Novel by Kimberly Krey!

Hey everyone!

I hope you're all doing good and having a wonderful summer vacation if unlike me you don't have to go to school ;). I came back on The Literary Forest to share some super awesome news with you all! Kimberly Krey the author of Evie's Knight (one of my favorite books EVER) has written another novel!! Without further ado I'm pleased to present Cassie's Cowboy!

Cassie's Cowboy Crave: Witness Protection - Rancher Style
(Sweet Montana Bride Series #1)
Twenty-four-year-old Cassie Lovell has a great job, good friends, and an apartment with a killer view. That is, until life is turned upside down. Without the chance to say goodbye, Cassie is forced into a witness protection program on Emerson Ranch. Just when she fears life is doomed, Cassie meets Shane Emerson, the stunningly handsome cowboy who’ll be posing as her newlywed groom.
Shane Emerson is determined not to fall for the woman he’s agreed to harbor. Especially since the whole thing was his family’s way of trying to get him hitched. So why is it when he takes Cassie into his home, Shane wants nothing more than to turn their make-believe marriage into more than just a sham?
In a moment of weakness, Shane steals a kiss.
In return, Cassie steals his heart.
Yet before they confess their undying love,
a hidden danger threatens to tear them apart.
Guess What?! Kimberly was super nice and gave me a little excerpt to post for you guys ;)
Cassie’s words dangled in the air like an invitation, warm and welcome. He couldn’t likely bring her home without a simple kiss, now, could he? When their eyes met, Shane tilted his head, asking for permission with the lift of his brow. She nodded slightly – a silent response – yet the best thing he’d heard in weeks – Yes.
Kimberly Krey has a gift for writing clean, beautiful, suspenseful romances that are still oh so steamy. I'm super excited for Cassie's Cowboy and can't wait to get my hands on it!
Available on Amazon

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mourning Period and Hiatus

Hey everyone,

This past week I experienced a great loss. A woman that I loved very much, whom was like a second mother to me, passed away. It was very unexpected even though she had several health complications. It's always tough to hear that a loved one has passed on, but she's no longer suffering. I took her death pretty hard and was really depressed last week even with the excitement of my novel's release. As a result I've been in quite a reading slump and have been unable to get into a lot of books. People say that death gets easier as you get older..but I have to disagree I think it's just the opposite.
School will be starting in a week and I'd have to put The Literary Forest on hiatus to focus on school. This first term is going to be brutal and intense because it's a concentrated course-study. I don't want to disappoint you all but I need to take time to heal, move on, and work hard in school. I hope to return to blog after this semester in October. I know it's far away, but school is my priority now. :) I'll still be reading but I won't be posting up any reviews until I start my blog back up again.
Thank you all for being you. :) Life is precious and sometimes seemingly short so don't take it for granted. I hope you all have a wonderful summer and find tons of books to read that you'll love and make wonderful memories to last a lifetime.



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