Review: Genesis Begins Again

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Title: Genesis Begins Again
Author: Alicia D. Williams
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

This deeply sensitive and powerful debut novel tells the story of a thirteen-year-old who is filled with self-loathing and must overcome internalized racism and a verbally abusive family to finally learn to love herself.

There are ninety-six things Genesis hates about herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. Like #95: Because her skin is so dark, people call her charcoal and eggplant—even her own family. And #61: Because her family is always being put out of their house, belongings laid out on the sidewalk for the world to see. When your dad is a gambling addict and loses the rent money every month, eviction is a regular occurrence.

What’s not so regular is that this time they all don’t have a place to crash, so Genesis and her mom have to stay with her grandma. It’s not that Genesis doesn’t like her grandma, but she and Mom always fight—Grandma haranguing Mom to leave Dad, that she should have gone back to school, that if she’d married a lighter skinned man none of this would be happening, and on and on and on. But things aren’t all bad. Genesis actually likes her new school; she’s made a couple friends, her choir teacher says she has real talent, and she even encourages Genesis to join the talent show.

But how can Genesis believe anything her teacher says when her dad tells her the exact opposite? How can she stand up in front of all those people with her dark, dark skin knowing even her own family thinks lesser of her because of it? Why, why, why won’t the lemon or yogurt or fancy creams lighten her skin like they’re supposed to? And when Genesis reaches #100 on the list of things she hates about herself, will she continue on, or can she find the strength to begin again?

Review:

This is an emotional story about a young girl who learns to love herself.

Genesis goes on a journey throughout this book. She starts out with friends who bully her and her family being evicted. She has to learn to love herself, but she makes many mistakes along the way, such as changing her hair, choosing the wrong friends, and even bleaching her skin.

Genesis is also bullied by her father. It was heartbreaking to see how her father yelled at her and put her down because she had his dark skin instead of her mother’s light skin. It was really difficult to read at times. Her strength was put to the test with all of the abuse, and she can’t be blamed for the things she did.

This book really tugged at my heart. It is an emotional, but powerful, story.

What to read next:

Blended by Sharon M. Draper

Tara Takes the Stage by Tamsin Lane

Have you read Genesis Begins Again? What did you think of it?

First Lines Friday – January 18


This is a weekly meme hosted by Wandering Words, where you give the first few lines of a book to hook your readers before introducing the book.

Here are my first lines:

“‘You’re not obsessed. You’re projecting.’
‘Projecting?’ Tessa looked up from the thick coil of long brown hair that she’d been braiding and unbraiding for the past half hour. She met eyes uncertainly with her psychotherapist, Dr. Regan, sitting on the other side of the bedroom.”

Do you recognize these first lines?

And the book is… Follow Me Back (Follow Me Back #1) by A.V. Geiger.

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Goodreads synopsis:

Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

Told through tweets, direct messages, and police transcripts.

Have you read Follow Me Back? What did you think of it?

Review: Sincerely, Harriet

Title: Sincerely, Harriet
Author: Sarah W. Searle
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 1, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Harriet Flores struggles with boredom and an unrequited crush while learning to manage her chronic illness through a long, hot, 1990s summer in Chicago. She uses her imagination to cope, which sometimes gets her into trouble, as she makes up fantastical fibs and wonders if there are ghosts upstairs. One neighbor, Pearl, encourages Harriet to read and write, leading Harriet to have a breakthrough and discover the power of storytelling.

Review:

This story was really emotional. Nothing too dramatic happened, but some of the things that happened were really heartbreaking.

Harriet has Multiple Sclerosis. It isn’t revealed until close to the end of the book, but she has symptoms throughout the story. She drops things and stumbles sometimes, so I knew something was happening with her. She becomes close friends with a neighbour whose son had polio when he was a kid. They bond over this shared history with chronic illness.

One of the saddest parts of the story was when Harriet would send her friends postcards, pretending to do things in the city. She mostly stayed home, but she made it seem like she was doing lots of activities. The girls didn’t return her feelings, and told her to stop sending letters. It was so sad to see her be rejected like that.

This is an important story because it has a main character with a chronic illness, which isn’t common, especially in children’s books.

What to read next:

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk

Have you read Sincerely, Harriet? What did you think of it?

TBR Thursday – January 17

TBR Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly Faye Reads, where you post a title from your shelf or e-reader and find out what others think about it.

My pick this week is Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Review: An Unwanted Guest

Title: An Unwanted Guest
Author: Shari Lapena
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A remote lodge in upstate New York is the perfect getaway. . . until the bodies start piling up.It’s winter in the Catskills and the weather outside is frightful. But Mitchell’s Inn is so delightful! The cozy lodge nestled deep in the woods is perfect for a relaxing–maybe even romantic–weekend away. The Inn boasts spacious old rooms with huge wood-burning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a book and someone you love. So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity–and all contact with the outside world–the guests settle in for the long haul. The power’s down but they’ve got candles, blankets, and wood–a genuine rustic experience! Soon, though, a body turns up–surely an accident. When a second body appears, they start to panic. Then they find a third body. Within the snowed-in paradise, something–or someone–is picking off the guests one by one. They can’t leave, and with no cell service, there’s no prospect of getting the police in until the weather loosens its icy grip. The weekend getaway has turned deadly. For some couples, it’s their first time away. For others, it will be their last. And there’s nothing they can do about it but huddle down and hope they can survive the storm. 

Review:

I was so excited to read this book when I found out it was similar to And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. That has always been my favourite book.

It is similar to that story in the way that a group of people are stranded for a couple of days, and someone starts murdering them. However, it doesn’t have the same ending. There was a little twist at the end which I loved!

This is the perfect book for a cold winter night. It was a fun mystery, but terrifying to imagine being part of it.

What to read next:

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena


And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Have you read An Unwanted Guest? What did you think of it?

‘Waiting on’ Wednesday – January 16

This is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. In this post we highlight a book that’s highly anticipated.

The book that I’m waiting on this Wednesday is On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. The release date is February 5, 2019.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families. 

What books are you waiting on this week?

Top 5 Wednesday – Most Disappointing Reads of 2018

This meme is hosted by Lainey from Thoughts on Tomes. The Goodreads Group for Top 5 Wednesday can be found here.

This week’s prompt is Most Disappointing Reads of 2018. I don’t usually like writing about the books I don’t like, so this prompt is a little different for me. These are the books that I gave the lowest ratings in 2018. (A note about my ratings: I don’t usually go below 3 stars anymore because if I am able to read the book, I think the author deserves at least an average 3 stars. If I am unable to read the book, or it is absolutely terrible, then I will give less than 3 stars, but I don’t think I gave any books less than 3 stars in 2018.)

1. The Mistletoe Murders and Other Stories by P.D. James

2. Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

3. Curse of the Arctic Star (Nancy Drew Diaries #1) by Carolyn Keene

4. Very Rich by Polly Horvath

5. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

What were your most disappointing reads of 2018?