Review- Wild Seed

Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler

51zwsfc2vpl4.5/5 stars

Doro is a special spirit, not quite a man, but still living from body to body. He spends his many lives, spanning over centuries, working to create his own population of “gifted” people. Some of these people can hear people’s thoughts; others can move objects with their minds. Although Doro breeds many types of individuals, he has yet to find someone who is capable of living as long as him. That is, until he meets Anyanwu. Anyanwu is a healer. She is unlike any person Doro has ever bred or met. He longs to tame her and mold her into one of his people, but she is a wild seed who acts on her own will. Doro coaxes Anyanwu into his tribe, but he can never predict how long until she tries to leave, and he is forced to kill her.

I love Octavia E. Butler. In 2015, I gave a 5 star review to her Xenogenesis series, which still remains one of my favorite science fiction series. I have a lot of respect for her, as the first influential female, African American science fiction author. I go through her works slowly, to savor them, and always end up loving every one I read. She’s written so many classics and I definitely recommend checking some of her stuff out if you’re looking for a good science fiction read.

Wild Seed is truly something I’ve never read before. Like Dawn, this book has themes that center around human breeding. It’s a bit horrific to read if you think about it too much, but so captivating that it gets you lost in the pages. It brushes upon the topic of human breeding lightly enough for it to be bearable, but makes you think about the issues around it. For example, it makes you ponder the consequences of having one leader, with special powers, who is worshipped by a community as having a god-like status. I’ve never read anything else that has made me think about topics such as this.

If you’ve followed my other reviews, you probably know that I LOVE books with strong, female protagonists. Anyanwu is one of the bravest, strong-willed, open-minded, toughest characters I’ve ever read. I loved getting into her head and seeing her thought process while she figured out how to solve problems and escape Doro. Many times, she had to choose between the lesser of two evils, and I hope I would have the same rationality as her if I were put in a similar dilemma.

Doro, on the other hand, was one of the most manipulative, ill-intentioned characters I’ve ever read. I was angered and saddened by so many of his decisions and motives, but I kept reading for Anyanwu. I was rooting for her the whole time. Wild Seed had me cheering for one of the best characters I’ve ever come across, which is a trait I love in good books.

As always with Octavia E. Butler’s books, I would recommend this to all sci-fi lovers. I preferred her Xenogenesis books a bit more, because I’m a sucker for books set on other planets, but Wild Seed is also a classic to me, now.

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Favorite Books of 2016!

I thought I would compile a list of my favorite reads of 2016. I feel like I read so many books that I absolutely loved, so it was really hard to narrow it down. I tried a lot of new genres this year and I’m proud that this list contains a variety of titles. I posted full reviews of a lot of these and linked them accordingly. Who knows, maybe you’ll see some books that you read this year too. Here we go!

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles– This was the best historical fiction book I read in 2016. I really needed a good novel to wrap me up in its pages, and this was exactly what I was looking for. I think I found a piece of me in A Gentleman in Moscow and I’m so grateful. When someone comes into the bookstore asking for a recommendation, I always hand them this. (click here to see my full review)

Mischling by Affinity Konar– This was a close second for my favorite historical fiction book of the year. I’m truly not usually a fan of historical fiction, but this book sucked me in. Sometimes, you need a book to break your heart a little, and Mischling did that for me. Affinity Konar doesn’t have a lot of books out at the time, so I’m really hoping she releases something in 2017. I love her writing style so much. (click here to see my full review)

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell– 2016 was the year that I got back into young adult fiction. A few years ago, I struggled to find YA lit that attracted me, but this past year I found a lot of authors that I ended up loving. I consider Eleanor and Park a classic contemporary that all young adults (and others) should read. It’s very cute with extremely likable characters and relatable personalities. I’m hoping to read Carry On by Rainbow Rowell this month!

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers– This was possibly the best science fiction novel I’ve ever read. Becky Chambers created a universe with multiple different species and alien cultures that I’m dying to learn more about. I want to meet all of these creatures and study their habits, religions, and relationships. It makes me sad when I realize I’ll never get the chance to know them. There is a companion novel to this book, A Closed and Common Orbit, coming out in March and I’m SO EXCITED. (click here to see my full review)

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo– This was my favorite young adult read of the year. It is the first big YA novel featuring a transgender protagonist that I’ve come across. Not only is it a BIG DEAL in LGBTQ literature, it is written phenomenally well. It makes me so happy to see this book in the front facing section in large chain bookstores. I hope this novel continues doing well in 2017! (click here to see my full review)

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur– 2016 also was the year that I got into poetry. That’s right, me, the person who hated the poetry unit in school, found out that she actually loves the genre. Milk and Honey is basically the first poetry book that I’ve ever read “for fun” and now I’ve already finished 3 other poetry books in 2017. This collection of poems honestly changed my life and I think every woman, especially women of color, should read it. (click here to see my full review)

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick (graphic novel adaptation)- Who knew that such an amazing sci-fi classic could also be an extraordinary graphic novel? As much as I loved the original book, I think this illustrated version was even better. Philip K. Dick has the most unique brain that comes up with the strangest storylines and characters that exist in science fiction. I hope I can read more of his works in 2017, as I’m sure they’re all just as great.

2016 was a phenomenal reading year for me and I can’t wait to see what 2017 holds! I’ve already read 4 books in January, so be prepared for a lot of reviews! If anyone has any recommendations, please email them to be at hedgehogbookreviews@gmail.com :). I hope that you’ll all stick around with me this year and I look forward to sharing more of my thoughts with you.

Review: Diary of an Oxygen Thief

Diary of an Oxygen Thief by Anonymous

15617034.5/5 stars

“I heard someone say somewhere that it’s possible to write the sickness out of yourself. And who knows, maybe someone will benefit.”

He hurts people, hurts women, to be more specific. He gets these women to fall in love with him and then finds joy in crushing their hearts and getting an emotional reaction out of them. Why does he do this? Well, to start with, he was hurt; he was hurt badly. People who have been hurt tend to hurt others in return. Secondly, he’s an alcoholic. Sometimes, when you’re in a relationship with alcohol, it doesn’t feel like your relationships with real people matter very much. Alcohol becomes your only friend. This is the story of recovery, karma, learning from mistakes, and getting a taste of one’s own medicine.

The back of Diary of an Oxygen Thief compares the narrator to Holden Caulfield. In the first chapter of the book, the resemblance to JD Salinger’s character is undeniable. The only thing missing is the word “phony” and the phrase “sore as hell”. After the first chapter, the resemblance disappears for the most part and the narrator becomes his own person. Still, if you’re looking for a narrator similar to Holden, this book is for you.

I think the most important part of Diary of an Oxygen Thief is the narrators struggle and then recovery with alcoholism. He begins a very real and raw account of the darkness of addiction and the toxic relationship alcoholics and addicts can be in with their substance of choice. The reader gets to witness the narrator’s lowest points and then see him attend AA meetings, become part of a sober community, and eventually get 5 years sober. This book is truly a tale of strength and conquer over some of the deadliest demons.

Yes, the reviews are right, the narrator is very self-centered and paranoid. But, A LOT of best selling novels, and even classics, have protagonists that annoy the crap out of me (Robert Langdon, to start with…). If you can see past all of this and only roll your eyes a few times while reading it, I think you’ll get the real point of the book. There’s a reason Diary of an Oxygen Thief is a best seller, trust me.

This was a very short, but worth it read. There’s not really a typical plot line, as the climax is nonexistent, but the story was enough for me. I’m glad that a book about alcoholism is a best seller right now and I hope it continues doing well. Lets face it, the stigma around addiction won’t be erased for a long time, but educating the public through writing is a good way to begin. Thank you to the anonymous author for putting this work out there.

Review- Milk and Honey

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

 

23513349“if you were born with
the weakness to fall
you were born with
the strength to rise”

 

5/5 stars

 

Self-worth, break-ups and make-ups, sexual assault, and a father’s absence are some of the many deep and emotional topics found in Milk and Honey. Rupi Kaur is very honest throughout the book and it truly shows in the quality of her work. Sometimes graphic, these poems articulate so many of the struggles that women and women of color can experience in only their first 21 years of life. The collection of works is split into four different parts: The Hurting, The Loving, The Breaking, and The Healing, and each is its own masterpiece.

I was afraid that this book was over-hyped because almost every bookworm I know absolutely LOVES Milk and Honey. I took it upon myself to go through the book’s tag (#milkandhoney) on Instagram and I found thousands of photographs of Rupi Kaur’s selected poems. As soon as I read a few of them, I knew I must get my hands on this book as soon as possible. The crazy thing is that it seems like everyone can relate to at least one poem in Milk and Honey. This collection speaks to so many different people who have gone through their own unique experiences. Rupi Kaur figured out how to unite hundreds of thousands of women around the world with her words.

Milk and Honey made me cry. Period. Many of the poems resonate so deeply with me that I know Rupi Kaur and I have felt the same way at certain points in our lives. It’s powerful to realize that another human being has been in the same emotional spot as you, even in times when you felt so utterly alone. The experiences that we have, as women, are not isolated events;  many of us go through similar things and can connect with one another through common feelings and reactions after them. It feels good to know that Rupi Kaur, myself, and so many other women are healing and growing together.

I’ve never liked poetry. It was always my least favorite unit in English class and I avoided poetry books at all costs. Now, I have 3 more poetry books on order at my local bookstore. I want to thank Rupi Kaur for reminding me that books and language can bring us together as readers and listeners. I hope she publishes more collections in the future; I’ll be the first in line to get a copy. Please, poetry fan or not, pick up a copy of this book.