Tag: Contemporary

Book Review: This is My America by Kim Johnson

This is My America
Author: Kim Johnson
Published: July 28, 2020

416 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: April 19-27, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

Every week, seventeen-year-old Tracy Beaumont writes letters to Innocence X, asking the organization to help her father, an innocent Black man on death row. After seven years, Tracy is running out of time—her dad has only 267 days left. Then the unthinkable happens. The police arrive in the night, and Tracy’s older brother, Jamal, goes from being a bright, promising track star to a “thug” on the run, accused of killing a white girl. Determined to save her brother, Tracy investigates what really happened between Jamal and Angela down at the Pike. But will Tracy and her family survive the uncovering of the skeletons of their Texas town’s racist history that still haunt the present?

Jessica’s Review:

I had this novel selected to read for April’s #Diverseathon prompt, which is a character who is not Caucasian. I DID finish it in April, I just did not get the review written by the end of the month.  But it still counts!

This is My America is a novel that was published last year and is very timely with what was going on with our country.  This is My America centers on Tracy and the Beaumont family.  Seven years ago her father was convicted for double murder and sentenced to the death penalty; he is innocent and has only 267 days left, so his time is running out.  Every week Tracy has written to Innocence X to try and receive help in her father’s case to no answer.  Then the unexpected happens, a white girl is killed and Tracy’s brother Jamal is a suspect. And up to this moment he has never been in trouble with the law and had a very promising future.  Jamal is on the run and now Tracy is determined to help both her father and now her brother.

This is My America is Johnson’s debut novel and what a debut it is! It shows how incarnation affects every member of the convicted’s family and the injustices of African Americans.  Johnson also shows us what it is like inside and visiting a convicted inmate in Texas.  It also shows some history into the KKK and how that organization still exists today and what they can do.  Johnson touches on so many important subjects and reaches her readers with very likable and enduring characters that you can’t help but feel emotions for.

Written in short chapters, this is one novel you don’t want to put down as the reader becomes fully invested in the story and is rooting for Tracy to succeed in both her father and now brother’s cases.    Be sure to read the author’s note at the end of the novel.  Though Innocence X is a fictional organization, Johnson mentions actual organizations out there that work to free those wrongly convicted.  I adore Tracy and her bravery at doing everything she can.  She is a character that young girls could look up to. 

This is My America is one that needs to be read by all teens and touches on so many important subjects that our nation is dealing with more every day.  This novel is up there with Dear Martin for me and may in fact even pass it in my reading. I cannot wait to see what Kim Johnson writes next!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Book Review: The Chain by Adrian McKinty

The Chain
Author: Adrian McKinty
Published:  July 9, 2019
352 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: April 1-10, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

It’s something parents do every morning: Rachel Klein drops her daughter at the bus stop and heads into her day. But a cell phone call from an unknown number changes everything: it’s a woman on the line, informing her that she has Kylie bound and gagged in her back seat, and the only way Rachel will see her again is to follow her instructions exactly: pay a ransom, and find another child to abduct. This is no ordinary kidnapping: the caller is a mother herself, whose son has been taken, and if Rachel doesn’t do as she’s told, the boy will die.

“You are not the first. And you will certainly not be the last.” Rachel is now part of The Chain, an unending and ingenious scheme that turns victims into criminals — and is making someone else very rich in the process. The rules are simple, the moral challenges impossible; find the money fast, find your victim, and then commit a horrible act you’d have thought yourself incapable of just twenty-four hours ago.

But what the masterminds behind The Chain know is that parents will do anything for their children. It turns out that kidnapping is only the beginning.

Jessica’s Review:

Single mother Rachel receives the call that no parent ever wants to receive.  Her daughter Kylie has been kidnapped and they are now part of The Chain.  To get Kylie back Rachel must pay a ransom… and then kidnap another child, thus continuing The Chain. If Rachel fails at any of this or if the next person she selects fails at any of this, Kylie will be killed.  The person who has kidnapped Kylie is not playing games for she is a mother and her own son was also kidnapped.  And one more thing: Rachel is a cancer survivor and it looks like her cancer is back.  Will Rachel get the ransom and even more… will she kidnap someone else’s child to continue The Chain?

I was lured in from the beginning of this novel and found myself reading it at every moment I could.  I had to know what was going to happen!  The Chain is a very intense novel and I’m not even a parent! 

This will not be a book for everyone, as some readers who are parents may not be able to handle this story.  If you are a thriller lover as I am then I say DO READ THIS ONE!  It was an original and unique story for me and though it does get a little less realistic towards the ending I was fully invested.  This would make quite the movie and I would watch it! 

The reader feels for Rachel and sees the change she goes through from disbelief in her situation to what she does later on in the story due to need. This novel shows how much one person can change so quickly when needed.  The Chain is also a lesson in social media: Don’t put your whole life on Facebook! 

During the novel one character that is math oriented mentions to another that books should not have more than 77 chapters.  Lo and behold The Chain is made up of 77 chapters:  PSYCH!!!  The Chain is a complete story and for me everything tied up well. 

As of now, The Chain is my top thriller of the year and my #2 read of the year.  I cannot recommend this novel highly enough as this is the kind of book I love to read! The Chain is a club you definitely do not want to be initiated into! 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Book Review: U Up? by Catie Disabato

U Up?
Author: Catie Disabato
Published: February 2, 2021
302 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: March 28-April 3, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 1 star

Book Description:

Eve has a carefully curated online life, works occasionally, and texts constantly with her best friend, Ezra. Basically, she is an archetypal L.A. millennial. She has also been carrying on a year-long conversation with her deceased friend Miggy over text. But when Ezra goes missing on the anniversary weekend of Miggy’s death, Eve feels like her world is shattering.

Over a frantic weekend Eve investigates Ezra’s disappearance, scouring social media for clues, while drowning her anger and anxiety in drinks, drugs, and spiritual cleansing. Eve starts to spiral as her friends try to convince her that she’s overreacting, and ghosts–both real and metaphorical–continue to haunt her. When she uncovers clues to a life Ezra kept hidden, Eve starts to question how much she really knows about her best friend… and herself.

In U UP? Catie Disabato holds a mirror to the ways the phantom selves we create online permeate our emotional lives and hide our worst traits from everyone, including ourselves.

Jessica’s Review:

I am not the target reader for this novel, in fact this one did not work for me at all. I received a copy from Amazon Vine for review, otherwise I would have put it down much earlier than I did. When sent something from the Vine, yes you must review it. Yes, I did ultimately DNF this one, with just 50 pages left which I will go into that later.

Eve is our narrator and speaks to us directly in addition to texting her friends which include Miggy who is a ghost. Yes, an actual ghost. He committed suicide, and we are at the one year weekend anniversary of his death and Eve is experiencing a variety of emotions. And then her best friend Ezra disappears after his girlfriend Noz breaks up with him. So goes Eve’s search for finding Ezra. Sounds interesting right? Yes, but the delivery of this novel did not work for me at all.

Eve is very unlikable; she and her friends use offensive language (The f word) and cocaine throughout the novel. She also uses the word d*ke repeatedly describing herself and other lesbians. This is a world I am not a part of and maybe it is ok to call yourself and others this word, but I just did not agree with the constant usage of it. And yes, Eve is a lesbian herself. I did not know going in to the novel that she is, and I did not have an issue with that, but we do go into that world of nightclubs and more. There are female on female sex scenes as well.

Another issue I had with the novel was with the text messages. The messages start and then a few pages later the messages continue but previous texts are shown again. The length of the novel could have gone down with just continuing the message stream versus repeating the texts.

The novel does go into showing how the excessive use of social media can affect a person. I do realize that we are at the anniversary of Miggy’s death, which brings up a variety of emotions and Eve’s grief, but Eve just comes off as shallow, so I did not connect with her character at all.

Once we find out what happens to Ezra is where I ended up DNFing the novel. There was just so much anger and more going on that at that point with just 50 pages left I just did not care about the ending and could not bring myself to read anymore. I was hoping in some way the novel would redeem itself. Maybe it does, but I just could not finish it. As I previously mentioned this one would have been put down much earlier, but I have to review it since it came from Amazon Vine, and I hate that it is a negative review.

All books are not for everyone and this one is not for me. I cannot recommend this one at all.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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