Mare's War by Tanita S. Davis

So here’s a book that I just had a feeling that I was going to love. I totally judged this book by the cover. Something about that cover that I just love. I love the colors in it, I love the representations of the different generations, and I love the story that the cover alone tells. Oh but the story inside the covers is just wonderful. Mare’s War is a book that not only let’s the reader fall into it’s story, traveling along with it’s characters, but it also teaches. And isn’t that the best kind of book? I learned so much from this book and fell in love with it’s characters at the same time.

Mare’s War is the story of a journey. Of a pair of journeys really. One journey is a car trip cross country that two young African American girls, Tali and Octavia are taking with their grandmother, Mare. The other journey is the story that their grandmother tells them. And what a beautiful, tragic, strong, admirable, courageous, and ultimately humbling story it is. But Tali and Octavia don’t see it that way at first. They see their grandmother as old and eccentric, trying to be younger than her days are. Living in a world that is not theirs. But they take the journey with her and learn with her.

Mare grew up on a farm and had her own sister to look after while her mother kept a boyfriend who was abusive to the two sisters. When the opportunity came for Marey (Mare’s name) to go off to war, a new opportunity for women of color, she signed up and left, promising her sister a better life for the two of them. What unfolds in Mare’s story is an awe inspiring story, a story that likely many women of color actually shared in the 40’s. Something that I was not aware of before reading this book!

This is a time period in African American history that is often overlooked and not often discussed. It thrilled me to learn a little bit more about this time period. It broke my heart as well to hear about the amount of hatred that still existed and the amount of ignorance that still existed as well. Though of course much of that hatred and ignorance still exists today. But through reading books like this one by Ms. Davis, we can get to talking more. We can get to knowing our history more. Get to understanding each other a little bit more. Pick up this book, read it and then hand it to some one else to  read. It’s a beautiful book and a beautiful story and it left me laughing and tearing up so many times throughout. Another one that I wish I wouldn’t have gotten from the damn library but would’ve actually bought for the keeper shelves.

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Long Time No Vlog

So Eva convinced me to vlog again :/ I seriously needed to do a library loot/bad bloggers thing anyway, and this is the easiest way to go I suppose, so here it is :p If you desire, you can listen to me babble for ten minutes by watching this video:

Here are all of the books that I mentioned and the people who get the points:

1. Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters (Paperback Swap) (Point to Amanda)

2. Define Normal by Julie Anne Peters (Paperback Swap)

3. Raven Summer by David Almond (Paperback Swap) (Point to Darren)

4. Small Gods by Terry Pratchett (Paperback Swap) (Point to Nymeth and Aarti)

5. Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee (Library) (Point to Lu)

6. Postsecret: Confessions of Life, Death, and God by Frank Warren (Library)

7. Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis (Library) (Point to Heather)

8. The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan (Library) (Point to Vasilly)

9. The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti (Library) (Point to Amanda)

10. The Einstein Intersection by Samuel R. Delany (Bought it) (Point to Neil Gaiman)

11. They Were Just People by Bill Tammeus (Bought it) (Point to Nancy)

12. Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski (Bought it)

13. A Little Book of Irish Verse (Gift from Shanra)

14. Beyond This Dark House by Guy Gavriel Kay (Gift from Shanra) (Point to Shanra)

15. Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos (Paperback Swap) (Point to Becky)

16. Goblin Market and Other Poems by Christina Rossetti (Bookmooch)

17. The Sandman: Vol 2 – The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman (Library)

PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God by Frank Warren

Have you heard of PostSecret? I’m guessing most people have by now. It’s something Frank Warren started awhile ago by inviting people to send him an anonymous postcard sharing a secret. Simple enough idea, but he’s now received over 400,000 secrets and has won many awards for this idea. And I’m in love with it. This is why. In the mental health field, I’ve worked with so many people who have told me something that they’ve kept in for years and have later told me how good it felt just to say that thing out loud. How much of a relief it was. Warren has set up a system for people to do this and to do it creatively. Many people who mail in postcards to PostSecret make their postcards elaborate works of art and they are beautiful. Not just in the art, but in the message that they share.

Not only does PostSecret allow that person to get something off of their chest, to finally say something out loud, even if it is just to a total stranger (or to the whole world if it makes it into a book or on the website), but someone else may read that same postcard and say “wow, someone else feels the same way I do.” Next time you’re out at a bookstore or a library, pick up one of the PostSecret books and flip through it. I guarantee you that you’ll find at least one or two cards in there if not many more that you can relate to. Of course it’s something that you’d likely never tell another soul, but some of it is comforting to read. Some of it is also very uncomfortable to read. I have to admit that too. But even those that are uncomfortable to read, I have to commend that individual for finally having the courage to admit to their selves whatever it is they put on their postcard.

In Confessions on Life, Death, and God, Frank Warren shares with us postcards he has received based on faith, religion, spirituality, commitment, sexuality, etc. But I think faith is the main one of the above categories that is focused on. Not necessarily religious faith (though that’s focused on quite a bit) but faith in ourselves, in our partners, in each other, in our parents, in our jobs…you get the picture. There are some cards that made me smile, some that took my breath away, some that delivered a quick shock, some that lifted an eyebrow, some that made me really sad. Just like any PostSecret book. I wouldn’t rate this higher or lower than any other PostSecret book that I’ve read, but what I can tell you is that I’ve loved all of them. They’re amazing. And it’s an amazing project. You can find out more about PostSecret on their website. Here’s a few samples of postcards from this book:

Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee

I think I’ve found my first “treasure” of the year in Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee. I was having a hard time this past weekend. Family stuff. I needed an escape of a book, just a good little story that I could read while soaking in the tub and I had just gone to the library. I picked up this little book with a beautiful cover based on the recommendation of Lu at Regular Rumination and I will be forever grateful to her for that recommendation 🙂 Thank you Lu. I can’t tell you how much this little book cheered me up. It’s not particularly a happy book. It’s a book that deals with death, and a little 8 year old Indian boy searching for answers, for meaning, for healing. It has moments of pure joy, moments of childhood wonder, moments that bring tears to your eyes. I don’t know what it is about this book, but it’s just magical.

This is the story of an eight year old boy named Anu who lives in the US with his Indian family. Neither of his parents embrace their Indian culture. They are not practicing Hindus, they instead encourage Anu to make up his own mind about his own religion as he grows. Anu’s grandfather, who he calls Bapu, does embrace his Indian culture though and is very close to Anu. One morning while birdwatching with Anu, Bapu suffers a stroke and dies, leaving eight year old Anu a great deal of guilt that he could not do more to save his grandfather.

His grandfather appears to him a couple of times after his death and Anu becomes convinced that he can bring his grandfather back from death. He embraces the Hindu religion and particularly his Bapu’s Shiva statue in the hopes that through the religion, he can become holy enough to bring back his grandfather. He gets into trouble with his friends and is made fun of by other children along the way because of his culture and his beliefs. His parents becomes worried and he becomes obsessed.

This book is written with a careful hand. And with a caring hand. It is such a beautiful book. So beautiful that I just wanted to hug it at times. It made me laugh aloud at times. It made me tear up at the innocence of eight year old Anu. Banerjee captures it so well. This book is really just special. I don’t know what else to say about it. But I so wish everyone would read it. I want to share it with everyone and if I could buy everyone a copy I really would!

The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness

I don’t even know how to review this book and do it justice. I want to make this a spoiler free review and can’t do that AND talk about the plot…so I won’t talk about the plot. I’ll just share with you my experience with reading it. The Ask and the Answer is the second book in Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy. The third book, Monsters of Men is due out later this year and I can’t freaking WAIT for it!!!! I may just have to set up a small calendar in my room to count down the days.

This is the best “young adult” I’ve read in ages. And I put young adult in quotes only because I hate to put this book into a classification like that. This book needs to be read by everyone and I don’t think it’s written only for young adults. I often wonder why publishing companies choose to put certain books into a certain section, but that’s a whole different post. Ness writes with power and purpose and passion, and it’s a delicate power that he holds. You’re never safe with him. But you’re never safe in life. That sounds depressing, I know, but it’s the truth. You don’t know what tomorrow brings. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Tomorrow could bring good news just as well as it could bring bad and that’s what he gives us in these amazing books. Only more often than not, it’s bad news because of the totalitarianism that he presents us with in this series.

There are so many issues that Ness handles so perfectly in these books. Issues of right vs. wrong and how we judge what truly is right and wrong and how different variables can change their meanings. Issues of discrimination and race are constantly addressed throughout both books so far in the trilogy, even more so in The Ask and the Answer. And he addresses these issues in a way that is so heartwrenchingly real…it just moves the reader to tears. Of course, there are the issues of power and the abuse of power that are addressed. I think that this is the most terrifying part of the whole book. The abuse of power acts as an umbrella that controls all of the other variables of discrimination and racism and right vs. wrong and decision making.  But Ness stresses the point continually that the power of individual thinking CAN overcome the control of brainwashing and flooding by the majority. And it’s a point that needs to be stressed more these days. That we as individuals don’t have to be “ok” with going along with how things are.

You know, I just don’t know how Patrick Ness does it exactly, but he evokes an emotional reaction in me like no other author can. He has the ability to take characters that I once hated, could never imagine myself caring about unless they were impaled (maybe then I’d have an emotional reaction of pure joy), and making me cry tears of sorrow for them. I can’t think of another author that has done that to me. His characters are just so real. The imagery he paints into my mind comes alive with the turn of each page. I’m going to be sad to see this series end.

I was talking to Renay the other night about this book and I think I told her something like, “at the end of this book I was reminding myself to breathe, blowing my nose from crying, trying to stop screaming “holy shit”, and trying not to pee on myself all at the same time.” That’s what Ness does to me. And you should let him do the same to you as well if you haven’t already.

Ok, I'm Coming Back Now

Sorry to have disappeared everyone. I had some personal crap (best word to describe it) come up, and it’s dealt with as best as it can be for now. For those who have been following this blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed that the way I deal with stress is to sort of just disappear. Probably not the most healthiest of coping mechanisms, but it seems to work. But things have started to settle down now and I knew I was feeling better when today I had a craving to blog.

Over the next few days, you should see reviews for the three books that I’ve read over the last week or so, all of them so freaking good!! I read The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness and JFC, I want Monsters of Men NOW!!!! That man is just a genius. On the hardest of nights, I sat down in the tub with Anjali Banerjee’s Looking for Bapu and though the book centers around a death, I can’t tell you how much this little treasure of a book lifted me up. I got it from the library and I just don’t want to give it back now!! And finally, I read Postsecret’s latest book, Confession on Life, Death and God and absolutely loved it as I usually do with all of the Postsecret stuff. Like I said, I’ll have reviews of all three in the coming days, and yet another bad bloggers post as I seem to have acquired a few more books AND I made a big trip to the library after paying off fines finally and getting my privileges back :p

Anyway, I missed all of you guys so much!! Thanks to everyone who sent me concerned emails or twitter messages and to those who I owe emails too….I’m sorry T_T I have the worst track record with replying to emails. I’m just horrible. I’m going to have to work my way back in to blogging with catching up with everything, but I’ll be here!

We Did It!!!

So I’m finally getting to posting about the BIG FREAKING SUPERBOWL WIN LAST NIGHT!!!!! WHO DAT!!! I had to watch the game from work on my little portable 7″ tv, but that didn’t stop me from freaking out and celebrating like crazy. I still don’t know if it’s actually sunk in that we’ve won the superbowl. Needless to say, the whole city has just about lost it. It’s pure chaos, but a good kind of chaos everywhere you go and the celebration is nowhere near over! We’ll all be wearing smiles for a long time down here 🙂