NetGalley Reads: In The Neighborhood of True || Lecturas de NetGalley: In The Neighborhood of True

NetGalley Reads: In The Neighborhood of True || Lecturas de NetGalley: In The Neighborhood of True

NetGalley.png(English)

Hello and happy Saturday. I know that it’s odd that I’m posting a book review today. I was supposed to do it yesterday, but I was super busy organizing stuff I’d brought back home from my classroom. I also wanted to write a proper review once I was done with the book, so I decided to wait until I finished it. The book I’m talking about is In The Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton, which I got because I was invited to participate in a blog tour. As always I am super thankful to Algonquin, the author and NetGalley.

I read this book between July 6th and July 11th, 2020 and gave it three stars. For about half of the book, I thought I’d give it two stars, but I ended up actually enjoying it. This is historical fiction but it is set in a time I don’t think I’d ever read. It is set in the United States in the late 50’s and it starts at the end of the plot, basically. The first chapter takes place in a courtroom, and Ruth, the main character, is called to the stand as a witness, but we don’t know anything about the case. We only know she is testifying in her boyfriend’s trial.

In the following chapters, Ruth retells the events that lead up to that day. Ruth used to live with her family in New York. Her dad was a Jew, and so her mother had converted and the whole family practiced Judaism. But then Ruth’s dad dies, so the family moves back to Atlanta, where Ruth’s mother is originally from.

Ruth quickly falls in love with the whole cotillion/pre-debutante life and everything it entails, but in order to fit in, she hides the fact that she is Jewish, at least to her new friends. Meanwhile, she starts going to the synagogue where the rabbi and this young guy Max are activists for integration and desegregation, so Ruth lives these paralel lives. I just realized that this plot sounds amazing, but there was something about the execution that I didn’t love, especially not at first.

At one point, I even thought about DNF’ing this book, and I’m very happy I didn’t do it and I pulled through. I think it wrapped out nicely even though the final chapters were a bit too rushed.

What have you been reading lately? Anything to recommend? Let me know in the comments.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

***

(Español)

Hola y feliz sábado. Yo sé que es raro que esté publicando una reseña hoy. Se suponía que debía hacerlo ayer, pero estaba muy ocupada organizando las cosas que traje a mi casa de mi salón. También quería escribir una reseña bien hecha una vez terminara de leer el libro, entonces decidí esperar hasta el final. El libro del que hablo es In The Neighborhood of True de Susan Kaplan Carlton, que recibí porque me invitaron a un tour de blogs. Como siempre, estoy muy agradecida con Algonquin, la autora y NetGalley.

Leí este libro entre el 6 y el 11 de julio de 2020 y le di tres estrellas. Durante más o menos la mitad del libro, pensé que le iba a dar dos estrellas, pero me terminó gustando. Esto es ficción histórica, pero se desarrolla en una época que no creo haber leído antes. Tiene lugar en Estados Unidos a finales de los años 50 y comienza al final de la trama, básicamente. El primer capítulo tiene lugar en un juzgado, y Ruth, la protagornista, es llamada a declarar como testigo, pero no sabemos nada del caso. Solamente sabemos que su novio es quien está siendo juzgado.

En los siguientes capítulos, Ruth cuenta los eventos que llevaron a ese día. Ruth vivía con su familia en Nueva York. Su papá era judío, y su mamá se había convertido, entonces toda la familia practicaba el judaísmo. Pero luego se muere el papá de Ruth, entonces la familia se muda a Atlanta, de donde la mamá de Ruth es originaria.

Ruth se enamora rápidamente con la vida del cotillón y de pre-debutante y todo lo que incluye, pero para pertenecer a ese mundo, esconde el hecho de que es judía, por lo menos a sus nuevos amigos. Mientras tanto, comienza a ir a la sinagoga, donde el rabino y Max, un joven, son activistas en favor de la integración y la desegregación, entonces Ruth vive vidas paralelas. Me acabo de dar cuenta de que esta trama suena increíble, pero había algo acerca de la ejecución que no me encantó, especialmente no al comienzo.

En un punto inclusive pensé en no terminar este libro, y estoy feliz de que sí lo terminé. Me parece que terminó bien, aunque los capítulos finales fueron un poco apurados.

¿Qué has estado leyendo? ¿Algo para recomendar? Cuéntame en los comentarios.

¡Feliz lectura!

Con amor, Miss Camila

NetGalley Reads: Prairie Fever

NetGalley Reads: Prairie Fever

NetGalley (2).pngBefore you read this post, make sure you have read my post I Can Do Better  to know how and where to donate, get informed, support, and follow the Black Lives Matter movement and people from the Black community. Si hablas español, y especialmente si vives en Colombia, lee mi publicación Puedo hacer algo mejor para enterarte cómo puedes apoyar a la Comunidad afrocolombiana. 

Hello again. Long time no see. Thank the Camila of the past for agreeing to write two reviews as part of blog tours on the same day. This book I’m going to talk about is Prairie Fever by Michael Parker, and I’d like to thank the author and Algonquin Books for inviting me to read and review it.

I started reading this book on June 22nd, and after a page, I put it down and kept reading other books because I wasn’t really interested in this one. I gave it another chance, though and I’ve been making some progress. I will say that this is not the type of book I can read in one sitting or spend hours reading. Here’s an update: on July 5th, having read a whopping 15% of the book, I DNF’ed it because I knew it wasn’t going to get less boring and I was going to struggle a whole lot to stay awake while reading it.

I need my breaks with this one. It is historical fiction and it features two sisters, Lorena and Elise, although it centers mostly on Elise. They are seventeen and fifteen years old, respectively and they live in what seems like the countryside and are farmers.

I’m not sure if there’s a point to this book, like something will happen that will make an impact on the characters’ lives. From what I read, it’s more like a slice-of-life kind of story. We read about the main characters going to school and the conversations they have, but not much. Prairie fever is a euphemism for typhoid fever, so maybe one of the characters gets sick. Oh, did I mention this is historical fiction?

After what seemed like a hundred-page-long chapter we do get a change of perspective and even a different timeline. Did that make the book any better for me? Not at all, which is why I DNF’ed it.

Does this story sound appealing to you? What do you think is going to happen? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

NetGalley Reads: In the Role of Brie Hutchens

NetGalley Reads: In the Role of Brie Hutchens

NetGalley (1).pngBefore you read this post, make sure you have read my post I Can Do Better  to know how and where to donate, get informed, support, and follow the Black Lives Matter movement and people from the Black community. Si hablas español, y especialmente si vives en Colombia, lee mi publicación Puedo hacer algo mejor para enterarte cómo puedes apoyar a la Comunidad afrocolombiana. 

Hello and happy Friday. I woke up early today after a very bad night, did my makeup inspired by the bisexual flag and now I’m here to tell you about a book you need to read, especially if you’re looking to read more queer books. I’m talking about In The Role of Brie Hutchens by Nicole Melleby, which was sent to me by Algonquin Books as part of a blog tour. I’d like to thank them, the author, and NetGalley for this opportunity.

I read this book between June 19th and June 22nd, 2020, and gave it four stars, but it’s more like a 4.5 rating. At the beginning of every chapter, we get these headers which are sort of like commentary in soap opera scenes. This makes sense as one progresses with the reading because Brie, the main character is obsessed with soap operas and wants to become an actress. She is thirteen years old and about to graduate middle school (is that even a thing?) and she wants to go to a performing arts high school, but her family is struggling with money, so Brie is not sure whether she could attend if she gets admitted.

There are many things I like about this novel, and even from the previous paragraph, you can sort of deduce some of them. I like Brie’s age because I think it makes the book attractive both for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers. To me, this would be great for someone who has outgrown Middle Grade and wants to start reading Young Adult. There are also so many layers to the story, like the fact that Brie’s parents are having financial issues because her dad had recently lost his job and is now working in Brie’s school. This also poses a conversation on the guilt and helplessness that children might feel when their parents are having problems of any sort.

Brie studies in a Catholic school and the depiction of her school life was spot-on. I should know because I studied in one and then worked at another. That means that I’ve been in Catholic schools for around sixteen years of my life. Religion is also an important aspect of this story because Brie is coming to terms with the fact that she likes women, but she is afraid and almost ashamed to tell her mom because she might not accept her. Brie even lies about this school event and her participation in it to hide the fact that she was looking at pictures of an actress online, all this so that her mom does not find out about what is going through Brie’s mind.

I have a lot more notes about this story, but I want you to read it first so that we can have a conversation in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

NetGalley Reads: Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

NetGalley Reads: Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

Hello and happy Friday. I was invited by Algonquin to participate in a blog tour in celebration of the re-release of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami. I would like to thank the publisher, the author, and NetGalley for the opportunity. 

I read this book between March 26th and March 27th and gave it four stars. It is just under two hundred pages and the writing style is very simple and to the point, which is what I like. The book is divided into “Before” and “After” and it tells the individual stories of three Moroccans who decide to illegally migrate to Spain. The book actually starts in the “During,” which I thought was really shocking and also a great hook for readers, who get to see how they got to make the decision they made and also the consequences of it. 

I was not very familiar with how immigrants in North Africa made it to Europe. I’d seen news about the tragedies that happen in those boats and rafts and how many people drown, but reading a book about it is completely different. The process itself of the trip is not really explained much; like I said, it is the first chapter of the book, but the rest focuses on the time before and after the trip.

The characters’ stories focus on different aspects, like Islam, sexism and the lack of opportunities for women, unemployment and the search for a better life abroad. I would compare the narrative style to Orange Is the New Black, in which you get a glimpse of the characters’ lives leading up to their imprisonment and after they are released. Every story is unique because each of the characters is going through unique circumstances and though they all made the choice of illegally migrating to Spain, their reasons are different and so is the aftermath of the trip.

This is an important book for many reasons and I think it will resonate with many people. I do want to say, however, that the last chapter or story or whatever you want to call it has several fatphobic comments. Basically, there’s this secondary character who doesn’t even talk much, but whenever she is described, some reference is done to her weight. For example, we are told that hair sticks to the back of her neck because it is sweaty, or that after a walk uphill she’s wheezing. I’m sure had the character not been described as fat, these details wouldn’t have been mentioned. 

Have you read any books set in a country other than the U.S? Tell me about them in the comments below. 

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila 

NetGalley Reads: Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me

NetGalley Reads: Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me

NETFLIX TALK_.png

Hello and happy Monday. Trust me, I am as surprised as you about the date of this post, but I guess we’ll have the past me to blame. I don’t know what has happened lately with the books I’ve been sent so that I read and review them as part of blog tours, but I’ve either been indifferent, not liked them, or DNF’ed them. I know that sucks, but I am always transparent with my feelings and I’m not going to lie to you in a review so that the publishers continue sending me stuff. The last book I read as part of a blog tour (thank you to NetGalley, Macmillan and the author)  was Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me by Gae Polisner, and I didn’t like it one bit, so here’s my rant.

I read this book between April 2nd and April 4th, 2020 and gave it two stars. I think the very first chapters were misleading, and that infuriated me. The book opens with a letter the main character is writing to Aubrey, who we find out is her estranged best friend. I say misleading because the tone of that opening is so dramatic that you’d think Aubrey died or that something really bad happened between her and the main character.

Jean-Louise, JL, is almost sixteen years old, and that age just didn’t sit well with me. We get flashbacks to when JL and Aubrey were younger and there’s this one line that says something like “we were more than in love” which made me think this was a queer romance. We were going to see how Aubrey and JL grow together to realize they love each other as something other than friends, but that’s not what happens because it was just a dumb line.

If you’re thinking “oh, okay, this is a story about friends who have drifted apart,” think again, because that’s simply one of the many plotlines in this novel. Let me tell you: it was all over the place. You get JL, who’s no longer really friends with Aubrey but that’s kind of her fault because she’s dating this 19-year-old guy and spending all the time with him. We have the boyfriend who is openly pushing her to have sex with him or at least engage in sexual acts that don’t involve penetration. We have JL’s mom who suffers from depression and has dissociative episodes because her dad has been in California for months and doesn’t seem to come back. And finally, we have the butterflies that JL has raised.

I know that you’re probably wondering where the title of the book comes from. Naturally, the depressed dissociative mom writes love letters to Jack Kerouac. Everything makes sense now, right? Seriously, I don’t know what the point of this book was. I thought that if it had followed the friendship plotline I could’ve given it a solid three stars, but no. This is the kind of story that has so many subplots that in the end nothing gets resolved and I just don’t like that.

JL and her boyfriend Max made a horrible couple, but I will be talking more about their relationship in a NOTP’s post. I’m only going to touch on two points about it here. On one hand, I thought that making him nineteen years old was done only to make something in the plot make sense. I’m not telling you what because it would be a spoiler, but it was gross to read about him with this fifteen-year-old. The other thing that bothered me and that would make me not recommend this book to anyone was the fact that he was always pushing JL to have sex with him, or to touch him. He suggested touching her as well and looking at her naked and there was no conversation about consent. Again, that is gross, and that should not be portrayed in books that are being released in 2020 and that are intended for young readers.

Don’t read this book. It is totally not worth it. But also, recommend me something that features a wholesome friendship.

Happy reading!
Love, Miss Camila

NetGalley Reads: A People’s History of Heaven

NetGalley Reads: A People’s History of Heaven

NETFLIX TALK_.png

Hello and happy Wednesday. November and December of 2019 were good months for me blog-wise because I got four different requests to read and review books, which happens but not that often and not all at the same time. I was invited to be a part of a blog tour for A People’s History of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian and of course I said yes because I’m always open to reading new books and sharing my thoughts about them with you, especially if they represent identities that are often invisibilized. Let me tell you, if you want diversity, read this book. I would like to thank NetGalley, the publishers and the authors for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour.

I read this book between December 30th, 2019 and January 1st, 2020 and gave it five stars. I actually interrupted my reading of other books to devour this one because I was captivated from the very first page. The very first page is a list of the characters with a brief description of them, and I love it when I get that because I feel that I can get to know the characters even before the beginning of the story. Right from that very first page, I felt similarly about this book as I felt towards The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock; I felt cozy, I felt like I was part of the characters’ lives and I felt like they would be a part of mine from then on.

From the initial description of the characters, we know that one of them is visually impaired (I’m not sure if this is the correct term to use, but it’s the one used in the book), one is queer, and one is a transwoman. The story is set in India and the story is own voices, so there is also representation for POC. Honestly, reading this book is almost like a must because at least in my case, it drove me away from the same bland setting and the same bland characters and the same bland authors.

Heaven, where the main characters (who are all female) live, is a slum in India that is being demolished by the government and turned into white-washed buildings like huge malls. I read about colonialism in India when I was in high school, of course, but I’d never read a novel that narrated what actual people went through, and it was eye-opening.

Every chapter or set of chapters focuses on one of the characters and alternates between the past and the present. In this way, it’s more like a collection of short stories that are tied up by the events of the present, the seemingly imminent destruction of the slum and the efforts of the women to stop it.

What books that discuss cultures other than the American or the Western one do you recommend? Let me know in the comments.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila