Review: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading this book, I can certainly see what all the uproar is about. ‘The Hate U Give’ addresses the very sensitive issues of race relations and police brutality in a time when the nation is torn over these issues. Most of my friends are at one extreme or the other when it comes to the #Blacklivesmatter movement. Since I don’t want to incite an online mobbing, I’m going to do my best to avoid that movement specifically, while sharing my thoughts and opinions on this wonderful book.

First of all, this is a very moving story. It centers on a teenage black girl, Starr Carter, who leaves her crime-riddled neighborhood each day to attend an affluent school across town. In both settings, she feels a need to conform to the social norms. This means that she lives a double-life of sorts — she has one persona with her black family and friends in her neighborhood and another one with her wealthy, predominantly white, friends from her school.

One night she attends a party in her neighborhood that turns violent. After leaving the party with her childhood friend, Khalil, her life and her community is forever changed. A routine traffic stop turns tragic when an unarmed Khalil is repeatedly shot by a police officer after failing to follow police instructions.

The events of that night serve as the spark that sets off an explosion. Starr’s neighborhood has a long-standing animosity for the police, citing multiple instances of police brutality and harassment. The death of Khalil is only the latest in a long line of atrocities.

Begrudgingly, Starr is forced into the center of a media feeding frenzy. Part of her wishes that she could just hide and return to her “old” life, while another part wants to be brave and stand up for what she believes is right. She was in an extremely difficult situation for a young girl.

Although she initially tries to remain anonymous, as the sole witness of Khalil’s murder she eventually speaks out publicly. Doing so, Starr learns a lot about herself and the people that she surrounds herself with. Some will stick around to support her, others will reveal that they were never really who she thought they were.

While this book certainly highlighted the issue of police brutality against blacks, there were several other takeaways for me. I applaud the author for not shying away from other issues that are controversial. For example, racism – against multiple races – was prevalent throughout this story. I appreciated that the author was forthcoming in addressing this topic, even knowing that it would likely be controversial. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Racism is still racism and it is wrong, regardless of the race.

Although I did find the danger of Starr’s neighborhood to be exaggerated, the author also highlighted the issue of violent crime, drugs and gang warfare. Several times, there were drive-by shootings or other crimes committed in Starr’s neighborhood by the residents against the residents. It was sad and the author did a good job of highlighting this issue/cycle of violence.

One notable, older man in the story commented on this and I couldn’t have agreed with him more. There was a lot of senseless violence and crime in Starr’s neighborhood. As he said, the government needn’t look further than that neighborhood to find a real terrorist. The people lived in fear, not only of the police, but of the crime lord in their midst.

The conflict in Starr’s family over whether to stay in the neighborhood, despite the danger, or move to a safer neighborhood, also was enlightening. There were a lot of mixed feelings and a sense of betrayal that accompanied her parent’s desire to “better” their situation and that of their children. It reminded me of that saying about crabs in a bucket, always trying to pull one back in before they can get out. There was certainly plenty of pressure and resentment, both within and outside of her family where this was concerned. They had to balance their desire to improve their situation against the repercussions of being viewed as sell-outs. The same was true for Starr’s uncle, who was a police officer.

Overall, this was a wonderful book. I’d definitely recommend it to others, regardless of their views. It provides plenty of food for thought and raises awareness of several important social issues.

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Review: Seven Days (The Game Series, #7), by L. P. Lovell and Stevie J. Cole

Seven Days  (The Game Series, #7)Seven Days by L.P. Lovell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The final installment in the series, ‘Seven Days’ gives the answers that I’ve been craving. I have been completely consumed with these short serials, reading the entire series in a single day. Each one has kept me on the edge of my seat and none more so than this final serial.

While I had guessed the identity of Number 3 fairly early on, I was pretty shocked by his motivations. Talk about whiplash! I’m not sure exactly what these guys were thinking, but this was one seriously messed up game that they were playing.

Although I finally got the answers I wanted, I found myself left with new questions that I hadn’t pondered earlier on. Now that I know who was behind the game and why, I can’t help but want to know more. When did this game get started? Were the players always the same? Why on earth would anyone continue to play?

Nobody left me with more questions than Ella herself. After everything, I was perplexed by her final actions in this series. I had a serious WTF moment at the end.

That being said, this series was one hell of a ride. It was suspenseful, mysterious and erotic as hell. I never knew what was going to happen next. Even now, I wonder what the future has in store for Ella, Tobias and Preston. I anticipate that there will be a spin-off series to address those issues. I will definitely be reading it if that comes to pass.

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Review: Six Zeros (The Game Series, #6), by L. P. Lovell and Stevie J. Cole

Six Zeros  (The Game Series, #6)Six Zeros by L.P. Lovell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! Finally all of the debauchery comes to a peak. All of the earlier installments were building up to this point in this twisted story. I don’t even know what to say!

If Ella was courting danger before, she marries it in this serial. I was on the edge of my seat as the events in this serial played out. It was sick, disturbing and completely addicting!

I don’t want to give anything away in this sixth installment. I’ll just say that I was completely blown away by the direction that the game went in. The dynamics of the game are more complex than I ever could have imagined at the start of this series.

Whether or not Ella can recover from the events that unfolded in this serial is yet to be seen. I had my suspicions and it looks like some were spot-on. Nonetheless, I need answers. I need to know exactly how everything fits and why Ella was drawn into this perverse game. One more serial to go and I won’t come up for air until I have the answers that I want.

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Review: Five Rules (The Game Series, #5), by Stevie J. Cole and L. P. Lovell

Five Rules  (The Game Series, #5)Five Rules by L.P. Lovell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Keeping with the suspenseful mood of earlier serials in this series, ‘Five Rules’ continues to build up the intrigue. Just when I think that Tobias and Preston couldn’t get much more twisted, they take their “game” to a new level. Time and time again, they test Ella’s self-control and integrity.

Ella is no longer sure of how she feels or what her limits are. She is initially haunted by the possibilities of what might have occurred during her night with Number 3 while she was drugged and completely oblivious to her surroundings. The only thing that frightens her more than wondering what might have happened, is the knowledge that Tobias and Preston may not care for her as much as they proclaim.

Despite everything, these two manage to endear themselves to Ella once again. She sees a softer side of them, while subsequently facing her darkest side. It is becoming clear that she is far less innocent and pure of heart than originally thought.

This installment also details tremendous growth in their unusual three-way relationship. Their interactions are becoming increasingly intimate and caring. The forbidden, steamy nature of their encounters is still there, but there is a newfound softness.

I continue to devour this series. I am not usually a fan of ménage erotica, but on occasion I find one that holds a great deal of appeal. This is one of those times. I am fascinated by this trio and the mysterious game that is unfolding. Without a doubt, I will be continuing this series.

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Review: Caged, by D. H. Sidebottom

Caged (Caged, #1)Caged by D.H. Sidebottom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Whew! It’s been a few days since I finished this book and I still cannot get it out of my mind. This book was hands-down one of the best books I’ve read this year! I read it to pass some time between the new releases I was waiting for. Honestly, I didn’t expect much. Man, was I ever wrong! This book blew me away!

I’m not going to provide a summary this time around, because I don’t want to give anything away. The blurb provides a quick glimpse of the very basic components of the story. However, don’t let the blurb fool you, this book is about so much more than a brutal MMA fighting ring. In fact, the MMA aspects of the story are not a major component at all.

This book is dark, twisted, and everything that I love in a story. Nothing is what it seems. I thought I had everything figured out, but I didn’t know anything.

If you like a story that will take you on a suspenseful, disturbing journey, this one is a fantastic choice. This book elicited such raw emotion that my head was spinning. I cringed. I cried. I fell in love with the characters and I hated them.

This is one of those books that will hang with you. It does end with a huge twist, but the next book is due out in July, so the wait isn’t supposed to be too long. Without a doubt, I will one-click that baby the minute it’s available!

I don’t want to give anything away. Just read this book!

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