Review- Go Ask Alice

Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks (Anonymous)

5/5 stars

41hYMaMVw+LThe Anonymous “Alice” is a 15 year old girl who gets caught up in the world of drugs after unknowingly trying a drink laced with LSD at a party. After that one drink, she can’t stop thinking about that initial high and seeks out other drugs. This quickly spirals into tranquilizers, sleeping pills, weed, and heroin. Alice runs away multiple times, sometimes living with friends and other times living on the street. She never really finds the proper treatment, despite her parents trying their best. Ultimately, even though Alice seems to be doing well at the end of the diary, drugs take her life in an overdose.

I’m surprised at all of the negative reviews of Go Ask Alice on Goodreads. I know this book is a bit cheesy and unbelievable, since almost every cliche in the drug world happens to Alice, but it really is an important read. This book is so educational for parents and teens. Although a bit unrealistic, it shows the dangers of experimenting with even just one drug and how that easily can lead to more substances.

Go Ask Alice is a wake-up call to loved ones of children, teens and adults alike. Understanding the signs of drug abuse, social withdrawal, acting out, changing of friends, and lying, is SO critical. The red flags before addiction takes someone’s life is important for loved ones to insure someone’s safety. In addition, making sure someone has the proper treatment after dealing with substance abuse is just as crucial. As a society, we need to stop teaching people that addiction is the addict’s fault and that they choose that road for themselves. Recovery programs tell patients that addiction is a disease and treatable with proper medication and therapy. I would argue that education for family members and loved ones of addicts is just as important as the actual treatment for the individual. Please, stop spreading self-blaming messages that tell addicts that their addiction is their fault.

Character and plot wise, Go Ask Alice is nothing special. It is told in diary format that’s very easy to read, at the level of a middle schooler. This makes it suitable for a variety of ages. The plot progresses very quickly, as the diary sometimes jumps ahead weeks at at time between entries. Alice is not very good at writing consistently, so there are many plot holes. Besides Alice, most of the characters are pretty undeveloped. I suppose that is the nature of a diary.

Naturally, the big question is if the book is fiction or not. To me, that doesn’t matter so much. In my opinion, the book was “written” to educate people on the reality of addiction and the importance of proper treatment. Alice may not have really existed, but she very well could have. Addiction discriminates against no one, so who is to say that “Alice” could not really exist somewhere?

I gave this book 5 stars not for the writing but for the take-aways. This is a crucial book for our society to read. I wish this had been a community read at my high school when I attended because it would have spread awareness about addiction around my community and started conversations about treatment and care. Please, please, read this book.

January 2017 Wrap-Up!

January Wrap-Up!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

January was a great reading month for me. I read 13 books! Most of them were poetry books, so they were quick reads, but they definitely still count. For some reason, after reading Milk and Honey last month, I cannot stop reading poetry. If anyone has poetry recommendations, please send them my way. Anyway, here’s the breakdown:

Diary of an Oxygen Thief by Anonymous (fiction). I did a full review on this book! I thought it was a great, fast read that brought a lot of the struggles of addicts/alcoholics to light. I am really happy to see a book that breaks down the stigma around addiction on the best seller list! Here is my full review: x. 4/5 stars

The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace (poetry). This was a book full of strong, feminist poems. I commend Amanda for writing about her struggles with eating disorders. Personal demons, such as that, are difficult to write about but make for very moving poetry. 4/5 stars

Sapiens by Yuval Harari (science nonfiction). I’m a biological anthropology major and this book was right up my alley. Harari writes about how Homo Sapiens outlived the other Homo species and the cultural revolution that occurred within our own species. I’d recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about the cultural parts of human evolution. 4/5 stars

Eighteen Years by Madisen Kuhn (poetry). I wasn’t a big fan of this collection of poetry. I am guessing that I didn’t enjoy this book much because a lot of the poems were about bad breakups, which is not very relatable to me. I’m sure that if the topics of writing had resonated with me more, I would have given it a better rating. 3/5 stars.

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (YA fiction). This book has the highest of praise in the young adult community, so I was very excited to get my hands on it. I was not disappointed. I could not put this book down! It had the perfect amount of romance to make it cute and all-around happy. I’m looking forward to reading Nicola’s other book, Everything Everything! 5/5 stars

Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan (science fiction graphic novel). I can’t believe I only read one graphic novel this month! I am such a graphic novel enthusiast, but I guess this month was full of poetry books. Still, I am SO glad I picked up a copy of this because it was amazing. I just purchased Volume 2, and I’m so ready to start it. This book is for all science fiction lovers. 5/5 stars

The Chaos of Longing by K. Y., Robinson (poetry). This collection had a few poems that absolutely hit home for me, like the author was writing from inside my head. The book is split into 4 parts, but I only related to about 2 sections. Still, the half that did resonate with me were breathtaking. 4/5 stars

Bitter Sweet Love by Michael Faudet (poetry). Generally, I’m not a big fan of poetry written by men. I have no idea why, but I enjoy poems a lot more when they’re written by women. Perhaps it’s because I relate more to the struggles of women in today’s society. Still, this was a great collection. The thing is, I don’t remember it very much because I liked Michael’s other book (that will be later on this list) way more. Still, I gave it 4 stars so…I must have thought it was well worth the read! 4/5 stars

I Wrote This For For You by pleasefindthis aka Iain S. Thomas (poetry). This collection of poetry was very unique because it included photographs, taken by Jon Ellis, specifically for this book. Looking at the pictures and piecing together how they related to the words was very fun and interesting. 4/5 stars

Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler (science fiction). I LOVE Octavia Butler. She writes the coolest, creepiest science fiction out there. Plus, she was one of the first female, African American sci-fi authors. This book was a little horrific, due to the topics it touched upon, but not gory or gross in any sense. If you haven’t read any of Octavia’s books and you’re a sci-fi fan, please pick this one or Dawn up! Here is my full review: x. 5/5 stars

Dirty Pretty Things by Michael Faudet (poetry). This was a fantastic collection of poetry that has stuck with me since I finished it 2 weeks ago. I’m going to warn you that a lot of the poems are erotic, in case that makes or breaks a book for you. This was one of the two poetry books that I absolutely loved this month. 5/5 stars

Nexus by Ramez Naam (science fiction). January was a good sci-fi month for me. This was an excellent book about the dangers of developing powerful drugs that could be used for the wrong purposes. It was very fast-paced and almost like a thriller with all of its ups and downs. My only complaint is that it was a bit too long, I felt like the ending was very dragged out and I got bored in the last 40 pages or so. 4/5 stars

Pansy by Andrea Gibson (LGBT poetry). This was an amazing collection of poetry written by a queer author about queer topics. I don’t think there was a single poem that I didn’t like. This book inspired me to find more LGBT poetry books that I’ll be reading in February, so be on the look out! This was the second out of the two 5 star poetry books that I read in January. 5/5 stars

So, that’s it! Thirteen books in January 2017! What a great way to start the new year. February has started kind of slow for me, but I’m hoping to speed up my reading pace. I’m trying to decide which books from this list are deserving of full reviews. If there’s a certain title you’d like to know more about, please shoot me an email! Cheers to a book-filled 2017!

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- Mischling

Mi41c0ib7y4l-_sy344_bo1204203200_schling by Affinity Konar

5/5 stars

We don’t always know ourselves, who we can become, what we may do, after evil has done what it likes with us.”

Pearl and Stasha are twins, connected by their minds and able to feel each other’s emotions. They are very similar, but Stasha constantly wishes that she was Pearl. She tries her best to be exactly like her sister in hopes that, one day, maybe she will just become Pearl herself. They both realize that one twin wouldn’t be herself without the other. Pearl and Stasha are taken away to Auschwitz and separated from their mother and grandfather. They are placed in special bunks filled with other pairs of twins and ‘anomalies’. The girls become part of an evil doctor’s experiment, one that tests their ability to stay connected even when they’re far apart. How much can one twin be altered in order for her to stay identical to her sister?

As soon as this book hit the NYT Best Sellers List, I knew I had to get myself a copy as soon as possible. I hadn’t read a book about the holocaust since I studied WW2 in high school a few years ago, so this felt like a very new subject. Affinity Konar absolutely blew me away. Pearl and Stasha were so naïve; it was painful to recognize the horrible situation they were in but not be able to tell them. “Do not trust this doctor that is trying to win you over! He is trying to hurt you!” I wish I could have screamed this to them through the pages of this book. I wish I could have done something instead of helplessly reading about a group of medical professionals lie, manipulate, and experiment on them. Reading Mischling broke my heart.

I will never forget how much love I read in the 338 pages of Mischling, despite all of the sadness and horror surrounding the twins. Pearl and Stasha survive off of their tremendous love for each other, their parents, and grandfather. It keeps them going. Pearl and Stasha tell each other that, as long as they can envision their mother’s paintings, she is still alive and rooting for them. It is beautiful to realize that children can find strength, even through the darkest times, in love.

I did a little bit of reading on Josef Mengele, the twins’ doctor, after I finished Mischling. I don’t even know how to voice my thoughts on such horrible actions this man performed on real, living people. I commend Affinity Konar for this phenomenal book on such a dark subject.

Mischling was amazing. I want to gift this book to a few people for the holidays because it’s just that good. Pearl and Stasha’s story may not be for the light of heart, but I do think everyone should read it at one point in their lives.

Review- A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

 51g6aenhgpl5/5 stars (I wish I could give it more)

Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to spend the rest of his life in the Metropol hotel. If he sets a foot outside of the building, the government has the right to kill him. That being said, the count still finds ways to make his life interesting. He develops great friendships at his new job as a restaurant server and spends a lot of his time just observing the hotel crowds. The count also meets a 9 year old girl, Nina, who changes his life in ways he never imagined. This curious explorer takes the count on adventures in the halls of the hotel and they find hidden spots using Nina’s stolen key. During his years in the Metropol, the count meets countless individuals who become very special to him, but perhaps Nina is the most special of them all.

This book blew me away. The last time I read a novel that hit me this deep was All the Light We Cannot See. This book changed me. It changed the way I think about life and the motto “everything happens for a reason”. Before A Gentleman in Moscow, I was unsure about this saying, but now I find peace in it. I wish I could call Towles and personally thank him for writing such a powerful story.

The writing in this book is absolutely phenomenal– it’s beautifully concise. I want to say it’s almost magical, like it puts you under a spell that lingers even after you’ve finished the book. This makes the characters very appealing and alive. I feel like I’ve been with the count through every phase of his life and the whole time I was right there in his hotel room next to him. It’s incredible to feel like you gained a friend (or many friends in this case) just by turning a couple hundred pages in a book.

Last year, I read a lot of bestsellers. Most of them were great aside from the endings that left me feeling like something was missing. A Gentleman in Moscow is not one of those books. I almost grew accustomed to novel endings that let me down and I was pleasantly surprised with this book. Again, I wish I could call Towles up and thank him for this.

As a little bonus “huzzah” for me, A Gentleman in Moscow has a lot of classical references. From Achilles to Odysseus to Anna Karenina, it somehow covers all of my favorite books. Someday maybe I’ll go back through the story and discover all of those hidden pleasures again.

I have nothing negative to say about this book. I would recommend it to any adult, readers and nonreaders alike. I expect this book to remain on the bestsellers list for a long time, as it deserves its spot. I can’t wait for more people to discover the count’s life and fall in love with it just like I did.

Review- How to Talk to Girls at Parties

How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman

26372 Rating: 5/5 stars

 Let me start off by saying this is the best book I’ve read in September 2016 and the best graphic novel I’ve ever gotten my hands on. I already knew that Gaiman was a genius, but this still blew me away. I am making this my October staff pick at the book store I work at, as I want to share it with everyone who will possibly listen.

Enn is a teenage boy still learning what life is like after puberty. His friend, Vic, is the same age as him, but does not struggle with this awkward stage nearly as badly as Enn. The duo decides to attend a party (that they weren’t really invited to) and Vic is immediately away from Enn’s side and talking to the prettiest girl in the room. Enn envies Vic, but doesn’t have the same courage to really say anything of substance to a girl—he can barely get a few words out. As Enn wanders from room to room in this giant house, he discovers that not everyone at the party is very…normal.

This graphic novel is very short, but in my opinion it was the perfect length to get the story across without over explaining anything. The writing is absolutely beautiful and the illustration is breathtaking. There are a lot of otherworldly girls in this novel, and the illustrators depicted them as true goddesses. I wish these feminine creatures were real solely so I could see actual photographs of them. I think that means this is truly well done artwork.

Neil Gaiman certainly has a creative mind. I have read 5 of his books and each one is brilliant in its own way. I don’t think I’ve heard of anything quite like How to Talk to Girl at Parties and I don’t think I want to read anything like it ever again; it wouldn’t measure up. I wish I could follow Enn on more adventures, but perhaps being left wanting more is better.

I would recommend this book to any adult looking for shorter read. You don’t need to be a graphic novel enthusiast to fall in love with this book. It definitely is a cover grab too, as the illustrations on the hard cover will make anyone want to get their hands on it. I can’t wait to read more Gaiman graphic novels (I’m looking at Sandman Vol. 1 next).

Review- Super Sad True Love Story

510jnPKfu5L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

Rating: 3/5 stars

“‘You don’t understand, Leonard’

The phrase I hate the most in the world. I do understand. Not everything, but a lot. And what I don’t understand, I certainly want to learn more about.”

Leonard, or Lenny, Abramov is a 39 year old business man working to make people live forever. He, himself, is not in perfect physical condition, but he travels around the world in search of good candidates. While in Europe, he meets a beautiful, and much younger, girl named Eunice who captures his heart. He journals about Eunice and invites her to stay with him in New York when they both arrive back in the states. Although very mismatched, the couple finds themselves living together a few weeks later. Through Lenny’s journal entries and Eunice’s chat logs with her friends, these two narrate what a complicated relationship truly looks like.

I picked up this book because I saw my friend reading it for his college English class. He actually told me that he really did not enjoy it, but I wanted to give it a try for myself. I genuinely thought I would like this book more, but it didn’t live up to my expectations.

Super Sad True Love Story reads more like a catalogue of events and feelings than an actual novel. Most of the book is told in the format of Lenny’s journal entries which are, to be honest, really pathetic. He is a really unlikeable character whose only redeeming quality is his ability to somehow always see the good in a girl who treats him poorly. I felt bad for Lenny while reading his pitiful diary entries, but not bad enough to actually like him as a character.

Eunice, too, doesn’t have very many good qualities about her. She plays with the heart of a man who truly wants the best for her, uses her parents for money, and seems to lack general maturity. On top of this, it wasn’t even fun to read from her point of view. I skimmed most of her sections.

I gave this book a lot of patience and wasn’t really rewarded in the end. That being said, I did read all the way through it without being put in a reading slump. The quality of writing and narration was there, but I couldn’t get on board with the characters. I wish I had liked Super Sad True Love Story more.