Month: March 2021

Book Review: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

All American Boys
Jason Reynolds

Brendan Kiely
Guy Lockhard

Keith Nobbs
Published: September 29, 2015

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: March 16-21, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Rashad is absent again today.

That’s the sidewalk graffiti that started it all…

Well, no, actually, a lady tripping over Rashad at the store, making him drop a bag of chips, was what started it all. Because it didn’t matter what Rashad said next—that it was an accident, that he wasn’t stealing—the cop just kept pounding him. Over and over, pummeling him into the pavement. So then Rashad, an ROTC kid with mad art skills, was absent again…and again…stuck in a hospital room. Why? Because it looked like he was stealing. And he was a black kid in baggy clothes. So he must have been stealing.

And that’s how it started.

And that’s what Quinn, a white kid, saw. He saw his best friend’s older brother beating the daylights out of a classmate. At first Quinn doesn’t tell a soul…He’s not even sure he understands it. And does it matter? The whole thing was caught on camera, anyway. But when the school—and nation—start to divide on what happens, blame spreads like wildfire fed by ugly words like “racism” and “police brutality.” Quinn realizes he’s got to understand it, because, bystander or not, he’s a part of history. He just has to figure out what side of history that will be.

Rashad and Quinn—one black, one white, both American—face the unspeakable truth that racism and prejudice didn’t die after the civil rights movement. There’s a future at stake, a future where no one else will have to be absent because of police brutality. They just have to risk everything to change the world.

Cuz that’s how it can end.

Jessica’s Review:

 All American Boys is another powerful novel that deals with racism and police brutality.  Though this novel was written back in 2015, it is even more relevant now.  I was first ‘introduced’ to Jason Reynolds last year with his novel Long Way Down which was my top read of 2020, and I was excited to listen to another of his novels on audiobook.

We have two narrators: Rashad and Quinn. Rashad is black and involved in the school’s ROTC and Quinn is white and on the basketball team.  They go to the same school but do not know each other. Rashad is inside a convenience store when an event happens and an assumption is made and then Rashad becomes a victim to excessive force from a police officer.  Quinn is outside the convenience store and sees the beating, which affects him, especially since he knows the police officer involved who has become a father-like figure to him.

Then as things happen in today’s world, the video goes viral and Rashad finds himself at the center of the news and the town becomes divided. We also see how this one event affects so many in the community. A graffiti tag shows up at Rashad and Quinn’s school and gains momentum.  Students at the school organize a march to protest and Quinn has to decide which side he ultimately chooses.

This is yet another YA novel that leaves the reader with many things to think about.  This is another one that is highly recommended and I look forward to seeing what else Jason Reynolds has written and will write in the future.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Book Review: Blood Cruise by Mats Strandberg

Blood Cruise
Author: Mats Strandberg

Published: May 1, 2018
560 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

On the Baltic Sea, no one can hear you scream.

Tonight, twelve hundred expectant passengers have joined the booze-cruise between Sweden and Finland. The creaking old ship travels this same route, back and forth, every day of the year.

But this trip is going to be different.

In the middle of the night the ferry is suddenly cut off from the outside world. There is nowhere to escape. There is no way to contact the mainland. And no one knows who they can trust.

Welcome aboard the Baltic Charisma.

Kim’s Review:

This book was crazy: It was like watching an 80s slasher film, minus all the cheese! My only criticism was that it seemed to take forever to get to the blood; a lot of detail about a lot of people on the cruise that I can’t really say that I cared about. But Strandberg kept everything moving at a good pace and boy when disaster hit, it really hit!

I can’t really say much because this book is an ordeal of pretty big proportions and it should be experienced! It had me from page one and then stuck in my brain after I closed it! It is perfect for a slasher fan and will scratch whatever horror and gore itch you may have! I absolutely recommend it to the horror fans out there!! It was crazy, but awesome!!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Book Review: Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster
Author: Svetlana Alexievich
Published: April 18, 2006
236 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

On April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history occurred in Chernobyl and contaminated as much as three quarters of Europe. Voices from Chernobyl is the first book to present personal accounts of the tragedy. Journalist Svetlana Alexievich interviewed hundreds of people affected by the meltdown—from innocent citizens to firefighters to those called in to clean up the disaster—and their stories reveal the fear, anger, and uncertainty with which they still live. Composed of interviews in monologue form, Voices from Chernobyl is a crucially important work of immense force, unforgettable in its emotional power and honesty.

Kim’s Review:

So far this is my top read of 2021! Chernobyl is a fascinating subject; the secrecy by the Soviets only makes the mystery more intriguing. I’ve told Ivan for years that I’d like to visit Pripyat, and of course Mr. Genius Physician Assistant said no. So I decided to read about it. It certainly helped that I read Fallout right before Voices, so I was already freaked out about radiation.

Alexievitch got into the trenches for this book. She traveled throughout the forbidden zone and talked to as many people as she could. The ones that were the most fascinating were the everyday people who didn’t know anything about radiation or the dangers; all they knew is the life that they lived their whole lives, so they kept right on living like nothing happened. And they lived a long time! And then the most tragic were the people the Soviets just threw at the blaze with little to no protection and no real plan for their survival. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that the radiation on the roof of Reactor 3 was so bad that 40 seconds exposed the men to the maximum amount of radiation a person should absorb in their entire life. And then many stayed up for much longer and then went back up again the next day!! And radiation poisoning is a terrifying thing! The Russians are a strong people. They’ve always put their heads down and trudged through and Chernobyl was no different.

Alexievitch captured that in every page. I absolutely recommend this as a great anthology of eye witness accounts. History is what can be proven through documentation and this book shows how history can be documented in so many different ways because it was witnessed by so many different people. I would even suggest using this book as required high school reading! I really love it!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK