Tag «racism»

Single Sundays: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Single Sundays: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Synopsis for Dear Martin (from Goodreads):

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav 2018
Series: Dear Martin
Author: Nic Stone
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person + First Person
Publication Date: October 17, 2017 – September 29, 2020
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook


**This post was originally published as a standalone review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I saw Dear Martin floating around quite a bit last year. While The Hate U Give seemed to catch more of the main stream attention, this book was mentioned quite a bit in the blogging community.

I was drawn to Dear Martin for 2 reasons. One is the fact that its lead is a male character. After getting a black female perspective in The Hate U Give, I was curious to see what the black male one would be. Two is the fact that Justyce writes a journal to Dr Martin Luther King Jr which is an intriguing approach.

The Concept & Writing Style:

What I really loved about this book was the narrative’s style. You get chapters told from a third person narrator; then a transcript of dialogue of classroom discussions; Justyce’s letters to Dr Martin and the transcripts of news reports and the like. It keeps the story moving, focusing on the important topics and conversations. Nothing ever dragged in this book and it never losses sight of the main messages by distracting us with unnecessary plot devices.

The Plot:

As I said, this story is always moving. It’s a very straight forward plot but it works so well.  I laughed, I cried, I screamed in frustration and it made me think. You can’t ask for more in a book.

The Characters:

Justyce lives in a bit of a bubble and one that only recently gets burst. It was interesting to see how he copes with everything that is thrown at him. And he does get a lot thrown at him. He makes mistakes but he learns from them and I appreciated that. I truly became invested in his story and life.

The Romance:

It’s just a tiny part of the novel but when it does appear, it does contribute in a positive way to the many topics this book touches.

My Audiobook Experience:

I thought the narration was fabulous! Dion Graham is the narrator and he was just amazing. Everyone had a distinct voice, his pauses and dictation were perfect, and he really captured my attention at all times. He truly brought this book to life for me.


–December 19, 2021– Book #2: Dear Justyce

Another very powerful book by Nic Stone. I’ll admit, I forgot who Quan was but mostly because it has been a long time since I read Dear Martin. That didn’t really matter though because you quickly get acquainted with his character and the challenges he has faced in life. His story is very different than Justyce’s and I can see why Nic Stone felt compelled to tell it.

While this story is fiction, I could easily see how in our current political climate and social mindset how it could be reality. I think it speaks to Nic Stone’s talents as a writer that she can elicit so many emotions from her readers.

My Rating: 5/5

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Dear Martin 5/5 | Dear Justyce 4/5


Another great novel that is so on point with the current issues in society. I highly recommend this for fans of The Hate U Give and those of realistic fiction.

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, current events
Avoid if You: dislike non-classical prose/writing formats


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Single Sundays: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Single Sundays: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Hate U Give (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.


Author: Angie Thomas
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If you haven’t heard of this book, you were living under a rock for most of 2017. One of the most discussed novels I’ve ever seen in the blogosphere and in main stream media, of course I had to check it out.

The Concept:

I’ve never read such a culturally and socially on point novel as this one. I never felt like this book was jumping on a bandwagon to sell a novel or going for shock factor. This book comes from the heart and isn’t afraid to talk about situations that people would rather shy away from. But as this book reminds us, we need to have these discussions if we are ever going to move forward and make this world a better place.

The Plot:

This book made me feel every range of emotions. When my heart wasn’t breaking for Starr, it was swooning for her boyfriend or loving her family. I can definitely say that I laughed, cried and felt everything in between. So that in itself made me super invested in the story.

While I enjoyed Starr’s story from start to end, when I finished this book I just couldn’t give it 5/5. Without a doubt, the topic and how it is handled is a 5/5 and it wouldn’t be the same story without getting to know Starr’s everyday life; but I felt like the balance was a touch off. I felt like some things were dwelt on a little too long (like some of the stuff with her friends) and it just made the pacing a little weird too me.

The Characters:

Like I said, I loved Star as a character. I thought she was hilarious and charming. And she’s also very relateable. She’s growing up and trying to find herself. She feels pressure from her family, her friends, her community and her culture. Who doesn’t feel that growing up? And while it might not be to the same level, I think we can all remember a time where it felt like us against the world.

And her family? LOVE THEM! They were a blast to read about and so heartfelt.

The Romance:

Starr’s relationship with Chris is super adorable but it is also super important as well. It’s used a tool to get the various points across when it does make an appearance. However, this isn’t a romance at its core so don’t expect it to be a large focus.

My Audiobook Experience:

I loved this as an audiobook! It’s a little on the longer side for my personal tastes (knowing I could probably read a physical copy in half the time) but I loved listening to Star’s story. Hearing the emotions in her voice throughout her experience really immersed me in the novel. There’s just something to listening to someone’s story as they tell it aloud to you vs written word. I highly recommend the audio version.

My Rating: 4/5


This book definitely deserves all the praise it gets! It’s a well crafted story that is so relevant to society right now. My only criticism is the pacing of the plot at times.

Read if You Like: diverse reads, socially relevant
Avoid if You: truly, truly dislike contemporaries or realistic fiction

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Movie Mondays: The Secret Life of Bees

Movie Mondays: On Mondays, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kid | Movie: The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

The Book:

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction


This is perhaps one of the few books that I read in high school that I can genuinely say I enjoyed reading. While it started slow, it really picked up and turned out to be a pretty interesting read.

I think why I really liked it was because I actually did study it and see why things were written as they were. Perhaps that is the English student in me that finds it enjoyable. There are a lot of subtle meanings behind the text and they tend to link up as you progress through the book.

It is a hard book to read for two reasons: 1) is the racism and treatment of a majority of the characters present and 2) it’s definitely a chick book. My poor brother had to read this in high school too and absolutely detested it! But as a girl, I liked it though I found the subject matter to be pretty heavy at times. It’s a book that makes you appreciate how far society has come in the last few decades.


While I didn’t find this book spectacular, I did enjoy reading it. As I said before, it makes you appreciate the world that we live in now and reminds us that we still have some distance to go.

Rating: 3/5

Similar Reads: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Movie:

It’s been a super long time since I watched the movie so bear with me!

The movie had a pretty stellar cast: Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Dakota Fanning and Alicia Keys. Overall, I thought they did a good job in their roles; I’m not a huge Alicia Keys or Dakota Fanning fan but I felt like they fit the roles well and I’m not sure who else you could have gotten to do the roles and get the big name appeal.

I know that they changed the age of the Bee sisters and a few other things in the movie but I think they stayed true to the message of the novel.

It wasn’t anything overly fantastic, but it was well done to say the least.

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is the BOOK. I just found it that touch more grittier than the movie and more impactful.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for The Secret Life of Bees (from Goodreads):
Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted black “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina–a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.


Series Review: Hooked by Liz Fichera

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Hooked by Liz Fichera | Hooked Series

Other books in the series:

Series: Hooked
Author: Liz Fichera
# of Books: 2 (Hooked, Played)
Complete?: For now yes, but a 3rd book may be in the works
Genre: Young Adult, Sports, Romance
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Alternating


**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

I liked this book more than I thought I would. I think that this book could have been really stereotypical (and often at times it is in its delivery) but I feel like it touches upon other important issues like gender and race which are often missed or not as well expanded in other novels. It really opens your eyes to how people treat others in high school and after reading I was thankful that I never had those issues in my high school (though I’m sure they do happen). This is probably a good point to mention that the plot mostly focuses on Ryan and Fred’s character development and not so much on their romance–so if you are looking for a hot romance novel like the cover might suggest, you won’t really get that here 😉

I was reading other reviews of this book to help jog my memory because I did read it a month or so ago. I found it interesting that some people really admired Fred’s ability to preserver while others critiqued her for not sticking up for herself. I personally liked Fred. Sometimes I wanted to give her a smack to set her straight but I think that she is someone to respect as she does carry herself extremely well despite everything thrown at her. When it comes to liking or disliking characters it is a completely subjective review so to each their own I say!

Ryan was a tough one to like though. He was a bit of a D-bag but I appreciate that his character grows throughout the novel.

The only character I really had a problem with was Seth–talk about over the top! I think if he was toned down a bit, I would have given this book a solid 4 instead of a 3.5. Also, I would have appreciated an epilogue.

UPDATED (July 8/14): When I finished Hooked, I was super excited to read Played. The two leads seemed like an unlikely pair based on my impressions of them in Hooked so I was interested in seeing where the sequel would go. Overall, Played follows a similar formula as its predecessor. It mostly focuses on the individual growth of each character and the romance takes a bit of a back seat–and I found that the romance here really took a back seat.

With the exception of a few plot points, I found Played to be very realistic for teens. I think a lot of the everyday scenarios are occurances that teenagers find themselves in–like house parties, disagreements with parents, and academic pressures. While readers might not identify completely with a character they will probably relate to one aspect of their life in some way. So I applaud Fichera for that focus in her novels.


Overall, this book was refreshing in the sense that it isn’t just a story about a popular boy falling in love with a social outcast. There are other issues brought up that add a little something to this book that others in this genre often lack. I’m actually more excited to read the sequel than I think I was to read this book. I think it is going to be super cute! The sequel is definitely a great follow-up to the first book; again don’t expect a full on romance novel though.

Rating: 3.5/5

Similar Reads: Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally (Hundred Oaks Series, #1)

Synopsis for Hooked (from Goodreads):
When Native American Fredricka ‘Fred’ Oday is invited to become the only girl on the school’s golf team, she can’t say no. This is an opportunity to shine, win a scholarship and go to university, something no one in her family has done.

But Fred’s presence on the team isn’t exactly welcome — especially not to rich golden boy Ryan Berenger, whose best friend was kicked off the team to make a spot for Fred.

But there’s no denying that things are happening between the girl with the killer swing and the boy with the killer smile…