The Rooster Bar a WHOLE ass SPOILER ALERT!

I finished reading John Grisham’s The Rooster Bar a week or so ago and honestly I don’t even know whether to give it one star or five or to throw it in to the corner or light it on fire. Whether to tell all of my friends to read it or to act like I never read it a day of my life.

Mark, Todd, and Zola came to law school to change the world, to make it a better place. But now, as third-year students, these close friends realize they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier, for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.

     But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, right?  Well, yes and no . . .
Pull up a stool, grab a cold one, and get ready to spend some time at The Rooster Bar.

That’s what Amazon had to say about this book and maybe that’s where I was lost I don’t love stools, at 34 they make my back hurt unless they have a good supportive back and arms and a cold one? A cold what? I think that beer whether it be cold or warm tastes like what pee smells like. *shrugs*

So probably at that last line I should’ve back away cued Randy Jackson, Not Micheal’s brother but this one:

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and backed away from the book. But I didn’t because no matter what people say about John Grisham and his formulated writing method I actually enjoy quite a few of his novels. But this one…

The premise of the book is that Zola, Mark and Todd’s friend Gordy  realizes that their law school is a scam. The owner of the law school is a shister who is also behind the banks that supply the loans and some of the law firm mills which pretend to hire some of the students of the school so that they can have a propped up hire rate. After a tragic event th duping them and others into borrowing thousands of dollars for law school of which they won’t likely be able to pay much of it back sense neither of them is likely to either pass the bar or get a job.

So, what do they do? They quit law school, go into hiding in the same city as their law school, and began to practice law. Ya’ll these fools quit law school  the last damn semester to practice law??? In the same city as their law school friends who could graduate in a semester and easily see them running around practicing law all Willy Neely.

And that’s where I got stuck. Even though the author keeps having the characters address the stupidity of quitting law school in your final semester and illegally practicing law, none of the excuses that they give make any sense to anyone with a brain.

I did sort of enjoy the close calls that the three illegal attorneys get themselves in and out of throughout the novel and how Grisham weaves a multitude of current events and issues including the serious look at immigration but overall I left the book feeling underwhelmed and confused.

If you came here to figure out whether to read The Rooster Bar or not I’m sorry I can’t help you. After all of these words I still think the best thing to do with this book is to throw it into the corner.

200w-4.gif  FYI: This is my face 95% of the story.

 

What We Not Finna Do

When I was approached about reviewing this book initially I took a pause. It’s a book written by a woman after her break up with a man and since I’m a married lesbian who hasn’t been on a date in years I thought that I wouldn’t be able to relate. I wasn’t. Had this book found me after my divorce when I was still hurting and hadn’t spent a zillion dollars on landmark, therapy, self help and self love books it would’ve been right up my angry alley. I still enjoyed it though so I gave it 5 stars. 

The writing is hilarious and full of my favorite words: PROFANITY. Erin’s no nonsense approach to teaching other women how to deal with horrible men is refreshing and timely. As I read the book I thought of all of the women who I would tell they needed to read this book. So if we’re friends in real life before you call me to vent about your latest failed Tinder escapade do us both a favor and read this book first.

I love listening to The Read Podcast where the hosts frequently tell people to “Break up with him,” and while reading this book I felt like it should be sold on their website right next to the Break Up With Him T-Shirts and shorts. If you love no-nonsense self help books that read like they were written from your favorite sophistiratchet big cousin then this book is for you.

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Confessions of a Frustrated Millennial: Book Review

“Natasha, Danielle, and Jayla all have big career dreams, and they’ve done everything right to reach their goals. Natasha earned her MBA, Danielle landed an important reality show part, and Jayla passed the bar. They are so close to their dreams of working in business, entertainment, and law, but the dearth of good jobs in the current economy has made it impossible for a millennial to catch a break.”

The young ladies in this Eugenia R. Jefferson’s Confessions of a Frustrated Millennial are just like most educated, driven, young ladies in society. They’re making steps to try and secure the lives that they’ve envisioned for themselves. Natasha is stuck working at a nonprofit dealing with micro-aggressions and doing all of her bosses work while getting none of the credit. Danielle is moonlighting as a waitress in between her auditions for what she hopes is her big break and Jayla still hasn’t managed to secure a position at a law firm in Boston and is forced to move back into her parents home in Chicago.images-4.jpeg

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s a quick read which I mostly completed on my flight to Vegas last month. I’m super excited to see that more books telling the regular mundane aspects of black women’s lives are being published. For years now I’ve been asking for stories about regular black women doing regular schmegular degular (word to Cardi B.) black women things, which are essentially the same types of things as every other woman through the magical lens of a black woman’s experience.

As we follow Danielle, Tasha, and Jayla along their journey we’re educated about life in Chicago and entertained with each characters exploits from first dates, to weddings, to cussing their bosses clear the eff out. (WHICH HE SORELY NEEDED) By the end of the story each of the characters is happy in life even if their lives and careers have taken turns that they never in their wildest dreams expected.

I knew I was going to like this book as soon as I received it in the mail because the cover is adorable so I happily gave it 5 stars. Read it if you love books about Black Girl Magic that have happy endings. Lord knows in today’s day and age we could all use a few more happy endings.

Sidebar: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the author.

Mamas Love Your Daughters: My Review of Halsey Street

“Penelope Grand has scrapped her failed career as an artist in Pittsburgh and moved back to Brooklyn to keep an eye on her ailing father. She’s accepted that her future won’t be what she’d dreamed, but now, as gentrification has completely reshaped her old neighborhood, even her past is unrecognizable. Old haunts have been razed, and wealthy white strangers have replaced every familiar face in Bed-Stuy. Even her mother, Mirella, has abandoned the family to reclaim her roots in the Dominican Republic. That took courage. It’s also unforgivable.”

This book had me in my emotions the entire time. Probably because I’m really sensitive to the relationship between mothers and daughters. I hate the notion that bringing a child into the world and giving them food, clothing, and a safe place to sleep is something that should be lauded and praised. Children require care. They require mothering. And Penelope Grand’s mother is not a loving mother. Or at least that’s how Penelope feels.

Mirella feels like she is a provider. She wants so much for her daughter. So much that she couldn’t have for herself. Her daughter could be anything that she wants, a doctor, a lawyer anything if she would just stop playing around with her art. “It might be that only artists want their children to become artists.” 

Unsure of how to connect with her child Mirella provides. She dreams for, she tries to guide but she can’t connect with her daughter. Maybe, this is because she had a difficult childhood and her own young mother didn’t properly bond with her. Maybe, this is because her father died when she was so young. Maybe, it’s because she is a Dominican Immigrant married to an African American man living in Brooklyn and she doesn’t understand or agree with most of their American customs.

Mirella and Penelope’s disconnect causes Penelope to leave home and move to Pittsburgh where she lives an isolated life until her father gets hurt causing her to return to Brooklyn. Nothing about Brooklyn is the same, Mirella is gone, her family’s store is gone, her father has declined physically and the Gentrifying Landlord family that she rents a room from may seem to have it all together but they have a whole heap of issues of their own.

Back in Brooklyn Penelope is forced to deal with the change that comes along with the changing landscape of her neighborhood, her aging father, and the hurt that she’s been carrying from her childhood and her relationship with her mother.

As Penelope navigates her new life and faces her path we realize how much hurt can be passed down from generation to generation and what happens when the cycle isn’t stopped. Back in her home country of the Dominican Republic Mirella tries to find a way to connect with her daughter.  Now that she has built home of her own she realizes that all that is missing of her life is a connection with her daughter.

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Naima Coster Author of Halsey Street

I really enjoyed this book and give it 5 stars. I really disliked Penelope and her mother Mirella for most of the story but my reason for disliking them is because I know people like them. People who carry old slights around and ignore the love that is given to them because it’s not the love that they want. People who use these feelings and emotions to excuse their reckless behaviors and avoid true growth. In the end Penelope begins to acknowledge these things and begins to grow.

As a writer when you take your  readers through so many upsetting emotions they should be given some sort of reward and Penelope’s growth at the end was reward enough for me. I also appreciated how the writer subtly showed the effects of gentrification on the native Brooklynites. It wasn’t pushy or preachy just stating what was so and I loved that.

Images from Author’s website: naimacoster.com

ProTip: I simultaneously read this book on Audiobook and Kindle. I tend to do this whenever possible so that I can listen to the book while driving and such and physically read the book when I can.

If You Must Be Creative With Our Stories How About You Be Creative

So it happened, I woke up opened my book and began to read as I do almost every single day. Reading is what I do. I consider myself more than anything to be a connoisseur of books. Sometime during the trips of my eyes from left to right across the page of my current read I got that feeling. The one I get where I know that I won’t be able to continue reading the book without doing a little research.

I tell myself not to. To at least wait until I’ve completed the book and have a true opinion about the story before I go internet diving for clues. But I don’t. 7.5 minutes later I’m looking into the face of a white appearing woman or man, standing next to their white appearing spouse, with their white appearing children in their suburban or gentrified ass white appearing neighborhood.

I know as you read those words you’re probably coming to conclusions so I should say here, I am not angry. If I am anything I’m bored.

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I’m not angry that a white appearing person has written yet another bestselling YA novel about yet another African American teenager. Nor, that they have taken liberties with this teenagers life and given them the crackhead parent, the absent parent, the problems in school, the job that they HAVE to work in order to contribute to their family because of the crackhead or absent parent.

But, as I continue to do research on this person: looking up their parents, researching their childhoods, the cities they were born in, thinking maybe just maybe their best friend was black, looking for stories in which they describe where they got the idea for this story, looking for anything to help me feel better about the fact that yet another of our stories is being told by other people while we’re still not given the equal opportunities to tell our own; I do get a little annoyed.

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See, as a writer I know that we have the creative license to write whatever we want about whatever we want however we want and that we don’t just have to tell the stories that we know. But, as I look at how stereotypes are developed and perpetuated and have been perpetuated for years and years I can’t help but wonder why a person who took ALL of the creative license with a story would continue to write these lazy stereotype ladden stories.

When I read a story about these issues that do in fact exist for some black people written by a black person I know that most likely they have experienced these issues or that the issues are at the very least in their orbit. But, when these stories are written by white appearing people I can’t help but question why if they felt the need to write about black people, why they didn’t use their creative license to write about magical black girls or as Danez Smif requests black boys playing with dinosaurs in the hood. 

Social Media airways, news and media outlets for once in our history are being flooded with Magical Black Girls and Black Boy Joy and  Black Super Heroes and yet television, movies, and books are still full of the same stereotypical stories about food stamp dependent, thugged out, drug abusing black people.

There will always be these stories to be told like their will always be a new movie about slavery. So, I’m not asking white people to not write stories about black people. I’m asking them to give us the whole stories. Like they do for white people. I’ve yet to read a story about a white crackhead teenager without being informed that she was a jock who broke her leg, had surgery, was placed on oxycodone, and became addicted. They’re humanized. So can we be humanized in these stereotypical redundant ass stories? I’m just asking  if you must be creative with our stories then how about you be creative or at the very least, tell the whole story.

 

Faultlines: Whoops I Didn’t See That Coming

One moment in Jordan Cline’s life tears his entire family apart. He and his cousin Travis have been in a tragic accident. All three of the car’s occupants were terribly injured but what happened? Jordan may go to prison for thirty years because although he says that he was not driving all of the witnesses and all of the evidence point directly towards Jordy. And no one believes him except for his mother. Of course, mother’s never want to believe that their children are capable of terrible things.

Faultlines takes us along for the wild ride that Jordan and his mother’s life are on after the accident. Was Jordan drinking and driving?  If he wasn’t then why is the town hero Officer Huck out to destroy Jordan’s life? Barbara Taylor Sissal has written a mystery that keeps the reader guessing the entire time.

I loved Faultlines, the way that it unfolds kept me engaged and rooting for Jordy and Sandy. I kept wanting him to be innocent even when all of the signs pointed to his guilt. Oh and the climax… I DID NOT see THAT climax coming. I was literally sitting there staring at the book with my mouth wide open.

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Also, That small town attitude that the story describes is XACTLY why I love living in the city. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

I gave this story 4 stars and would gladly read another book from this author.

 

Corner Dweller- The Buried Book

I haven’t thrown a book in the corner for quite a while but The Buried Book by D.M. Pulley is going straight into the corner. I would also like them to repay me my time and make my brain stop hurting.

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The story isn’t bad per se… but the characters just got on my last nerve. Uhhhh I guess I should tell you what the story is about before I discuss characters so here goes:

 

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Jasper’s mom Althea drops him off at her brother’s farm to live. She  leaves him there with nothing but a suitcase and a bible. She doesn’t give anyone a real reason for her abandoning Jasper. She’s apparently left him in the past but never for this many days so Jasper begins to worry. He overhears the adults talking about her and figures that she must be in trouble so  Jasper goes on a hunt for his mother putting himself in frequent danger. The entire story is one boringly outlandish incident after another as Jasper, a nine year old boy, hunts for his mother alone

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While on this hunt Jasper finds her childhood journal which he uses for clues to where she may be. He finds himself on Indian Reservations, at bars, and strip clubs during his hunt. The story is outlandish and Jasper’s frequent crying and injuries just add to the outlandishness of the story. You set fire to the barn and burned a house down and didn’t get your ass whooped once from your terrifying christian farmer uncle?- I think not.

I struggle to give this story 2 stars but I managed to eek them out since I completed the book and cared enough about the characters to make it to the end. I do like D.M. Pulley so I’m going to consider this story a fluke…

EDIT: I lied up above where I said that I like D.M. Pulley. When I went to add this title to The Book Corner I see that the last book that I added to that list was The Dead Key by D.M. Pulley. My bad. I shall now avoid D.M. Pulley like I avoid people with unvaccinated children. *Kayne Shrug*

Grist Mill Road: A Wild Ass Ride

Christoper Yates’ Grist Mill Road is a weirdly entertaining wild ass ride. Every time you think to yourself, “this story can’t get any crazier” or “these people can’t get any weirder” Yates unveils another level of hurt, betrayal, misunderstanding, violence and resentment.

In 1982 a group of friends suffer a traumatic ordeal where one of them is seriously injured by another one. In 2008 we meet this fractured group of friends again living their own lives under the shadow of what happened all  of those years ago. Why did it happen? What actually happened? Who was really there? And what’s next?

The story jumps back and forth from 1982 to 2008 giving us background and telling us their version of the story in the three character’s, Patrick, Hannah, and Matthew, voices. Sometimes this method of story telling can be a little dizzying but Yates weaves the story together magically.

I felt like I was on a rollercoaster ride the entire time and give the story 4 Stars.

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*I was given an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Looking For Alaska: Quick Book Review

I’ve been reading Looking For Alaska by John Green for a few weeks. It took me longer than usual because it wasn’t one of those books where you just can’t put it down. For most of the story the characters were likable enough but I just didn’t really care about them. Until tragedy struck. For that reason I gave it 3 Stars.
 The story is good. Not extraordinary… Just good. Like a cup of cool water on a hot summer’s day. It’ll do. It just doesn’t knock your socks off.
Looking for Alaska has great writing, a good story line, and funny dialogue between a group of teens trying to find themselves at a boarding school. 
 
I read YA novels frequently but for a moment while reading this book I was annoyed and began judging  these teenagers for being teenagers until I remembered that when I was a teenager I did most of the same things that they did in this book when I lived on Campus at my school. *shrugs* #NoJudging
 
#SpoilerAlert John Green is going to make you cry in this book. Not as bad as The Fault in Our Stars but you’ll definitely shed a few tears.
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The Book of Unknown Americans

I originally started writing a typical review of this book but last night I had a text conversation with my cousin and I realized how boring that review was so here goes:

I loved the book of Unknown Americans: I gave it 5 STARS. 

Mayar and Maribel’s teenage love story is the love story of two teenage neighbors who fall in love in the most American way in spite of their Americaness constantly being denied. There’s seeing each other in a way that no one else does, stolen kisses, and stolen moments of teenage rebellion that lead to the most fucked up shit. Adding to their love story is the fact that it isn’t tied up neatly with a bright red bow.

In The Book of Unknown Americans we travel with a group of neighbors who live in a building full of other immigrants as they make their way from their respective lands and end up in Maryland in this apartment building. The journeys of each tenant gives the reader insights into the reasons why people leave their homes, their families, their lives, their beautiful native lands of Puerto Rico, Panama, Mexico, Columbia- to chase the American Dream.

In the story we are forced to bare witness to the ugliness that immigrants are forced to deal with; poor working conditions, racial profiling, harassment, robbery, bullying, the constant feeling of less than, while trying to survive and get a piece of the elusive American Pie.

And I loved the journeys. Up until this book I had a very minimal understanding of why people would leave home for America only to be frequently ridiculed and treated like a burden.

So that’s the love. Now for the hate. I’ll keep it brief. Check it under this Spoiler Alert:

-SPOILER ALERT-

THINGS I HATE:

  • ALMA- Keeper of secrets that cause harm for the stupidest of reasons. ALMA, why the eff didn’t you at least try to get a job washing laundry, cooking, babysitting, something? Why is your family struggling whilst you try to find your damn self and threaten teenagers in a language that you can barely speak? ALMA, most of this is your fault.
  • The shifting of characters is a bit to get used to as each character tells their story in the first person narrative style and some stories feel more authentic than others.
  • The glossing over of Garret Miller’s life. There’s enough there to gather that this family has problems but if this character is going to be the antagonist that character’s life and encounters can’t be written as an after thought.

I recommend that most people read this book especially people who think that immigrants are stealing their jobs, want to Make America Great Again,  tell other people to “Go back where you came from” and those who say  “We speak English in America if you can’t speak the language then go back home.”