Selena’s Secret- Maria Celeste Arraras

Title: Selena’s Secret

Author: Maria Celeste Arraras

Publisher: Atria Books

Pages: 240

Rating: 2/2

I was really excited to have purchased this book because it was about Selena. I haven’t read anything from her surprisingly and I thought this book was going to be really good considering that I was a big fan of Maria growing up. I started reading a few pages and instantly all my emotions and memories of Selena came rushing back. I was very disappointed to see that this book just ran around in circles and never really gave us what we wanted….TO KNOW THE DAMN SECRET! At times I felt like Maria was favoring Yolanda. In my head all I can think is how she could feel bad for someone that murdered in cold blood someone else? Especially someone like Selena. Granted I also learned a few things I didn’t know about the case, such as her relationship with the Doctor and her business dealings in Monterrey. I will agree though, I do not like Selena’s dad at all. To me he’s just a money hungry individual who likes to just make money off his dead daughters name, and basically wants to own rights to every single thing out there with Selena’s name on it. All in all, I really don’t recommend this book because the title is very misleading and there’s just too much running around in circles.

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The House of Impossible Beauties- Joseph Cassara

Title: The House of Impossible Beauties

Author: Joseph Cassara

Publisher: Harpercollins

Pages: 416

Rating: 4/4

Joseph Cassara has created such an amazing story. This was my first LGBT book and I’m so glad I have it a chance because I will admit that it was starting slow for me. It was probably maybe also the fact that there were a lot of characters to keep up with. I was surprised to learn that this story pays homage to the House of XTravaganza back in the 80’s and 90’s. This proves I need to expand my horizons when it comes to books. If you read up on this fabulous place , you’ll realize they deal with the same issues as in The House of Impossible Beauties. It tells the story of young gay and transgendered characters that have to deal with with their everyday lives while at the same time deal with rejection from family members and strangers, self-identification, The virus, addiction, discrimination, murder, violence, and so on. Pretty much a real in depth look at the life of a sex worker and the trial and tribulations of life. 
Angel is a young queen fascinated by the glitz and glam of the drag scene. (she’s a sucker for some Dior) She loves to go shopping at the high end stores in manhattan and being around the Harlem ballroom scene. She eventually meets the legendary queen Dorian, and falls in love with Hector, a dancer. Since Angel has to deal with her toxic family and her trauma, she longs to be in a family full of unconditional love and overall have a tight knit relationship. This is also for people who also are looking for the same. Angel and Hector set up their own House and in come Daniel, Juanito, and Venus. Venus years to be with a rich man who can take care of her. She quickly learns how that can backfire. We also learn of the tragedies that hit the house including Hector’s. 

This book is full of a lot of emotions. I remember being on the train and being shocked towards the end of the book. I love a story that does that. I’m glad I picked this ARC up from work. Stepping out of your reading comfort zone is great. I remember being super excited because the author used a lot of Spanish phrases I’m familiar with.

23/7: Pelican Bay and the Rise of Long-term Solitary Confinement- Keramet Reiter

Title: 23/7: Pelican Bay and the Rise of Long-term Solitary Confinement

Author: Keramet Reiter

Publisher: Yale University Press

Pages: 312

Rating: 3/5

I REALLY wanted to like this book, but it lacked a lot of content. Even though it gave you some background on how Pelican Bay and the SHU came about, I just felt it was too statistically out there. The author focused mainly on two individuals. While it gave you a little glimpse on the inside of what these prisoners have endured, I still wish she would’ve used more inmates’ personal experiences. This book does give you some great research ideas and does give you an idea of the life of a prisoner, but I wanted more. 

If you do want to read about Solitary Confinement and some perspectives from a few inmates, check out:

Hell is a Very Small Place: Voices of Solitary Confinement- Jean Casella, James Ridgeway, and Sarah Shourd (no endorsement for this book)
I really feel like you get that more personal, in-depth look you want in the life of a solitary confinement prisoner. 

I really wanted to write more in this review, but there’s only so much you can write about something you didn’t really enjoy.

Maid: Stephanie Land

Title: Maid

Author: Stephanie Land

Publisher: Hachette Books

Pages: 288

Rating: 5/5

I was seeing this book floating around on Goodreads and then I happened to come across it on Netgalley as a ARC and I’m so glad I chose to review this. This book is more than just its Social Science context, it’s a deep look into the life of a woman whose life hasn’t been all peaches and cream. 

Life hasn’t been very kind to Stephanie and her daughter Mia. Without the help of Stephanie’s parents and Mia’s father, Jamie, things spiral out of control for Stephanie. Maid is about her journey to provide a better life for her daughter Mia while getting bits of help from our rather broken public assistance program and the low pay she received from her being a maid. When you hear the word maid, you instantly think of the rich and their black and white starched uniforms, talking all proper. In reality being a maid is washing dirty drawers, picking out pubes from a dirty bathroom, scrubbing and cleaning every dirty crevice you can imagine. Yet, these maids are looked down upon as the lowest of lows, not treated with respect and earning a ghastly wage, on top of that looked down upon those with fancy desk jobs or who were fortunate enough to not know the word:”struggle”. Unfortunately, Stephanie was a single mother and public assistance only took her so far, constantly going through food shortages because of lack of funds, constantly wondering where she was going to leave her daughter, wondering how much she would make everyday. It’s really a grueling situation trying to figure out how to pay your next bill or figure out your next meal on a measly pay. I know exactly how it’s like, because me and my husband have found ourselves knocking on evictions door. It wasn’t because we weren’t doing what we were supposed to do, it’s more of his job not doing their part in paying him while he was on a disability leave; 3 months back pay from his disability leave company. I honestly was very upset at the fact that Stephanie’s parents (although sometimes they helped) didn’t give her that support that she needed. They were judging the hell out of her and they seemed to choose their new partners/family over Stephanie. Another thing that bothered me was how much of a piece of crap Jamie was to Stephanie while she was trying to her very best to get up everyday and go to work. He boasted about being a great parent and a better person than Stephanie, but he would be abusive and say hurtful things to the person that’s supposed to be the mother of his child. 
I personally don’t judge anyone that needs public assistance or anything like that because there are legit people out there who need it. There’s people out there who pay their taxes and work, but it still just isn’t enough. Don’t think because a person makes $20 an hour, that that is it. NO! You have to factor in how much taxes they’re taking out, you have to factor in their bills, they food, if they have a kid etc. It’s not easy, and I really hated how much of a hard time they would give Stephanie at the grocery store because the used a WIC check or EBT card; the looks given by other people because she was getting help from the government. As a former cashier for supermarkets, I always treated people with EBT and WIC checks with respect and never any differently than those who paid with a credit/debit card and cash. If I saw someone with a WIC check, I would close my lane for the time I am with the customer and I make sure to tell any other customer that approaches my line that I’m closed for the moment to do some paperwork (I know sometimes people don’t like for other people to know they use it…because…duh!…Stigmas).If they get the wrong thing, I just go get it quick and efficiently, no need to shame them. I admire Stephanie for all her hard work and determination, as well as writing about her experiences. Often times people may say people who blog or write about their lives are whiners and complainers, but I beg to differ. Writing is an outlet for many; sometimes it’s the only thing they have. Because of that, people got to see what she truly went through and how she felt. How everything she did and continues to do is for the well-being of her daughter. I hope that she continues being successful and she gets everything she deserves. I really enjoyed this book and it made me really open my eyes to how hard maids have it; how much they sacrifice. I would recommend this book to everyone, especially those who believe the stigmas of those less unfortunate to be wealthy.

Publication Date Expected: 1/22/2019

Becoming: Michelle Obama

Title: Becoming

Author: Michelle Obama

Publisher: Crown

Pages: 426

Rating: 5/5

I was super excited to finally get my paws on this beautiful memoir. I’ve been stalking it at my job for a few weeks and when I finally got some cash, I purchased it without hesitation. This book took me forever to read because of adult responsibilities, but I’m pretty sure I would’ve devoured it a whole lot sooner. Honestly, I felt a certain emptiness after finishing it because I didn’t want it to end. This book was everything I thought it would be and more. It was so beautifully written.
I’ve never been one to cry over books or even so much as get watery eyes. But after losing my grandmother, I’ve been super sensitive especially with books. This book had me very sentimental to the point where I had to PUT THE BOOK DOWN because I needed a good cry. I knew the pain she felt and I had to sit back and reflect on my own situation. This isn’t a political book by any means, of course, there’s talks about it but it was about her life, her struggles, her successes, her losses, her wins, her love for her prince charming, the joy of motherhood, and her life as a First Lady.
Michelle came from a homey apartment in Euclid Avenue in downtown Chicago. With two hard-working, and strong parents. Her parents always wanted the best for her and her older brother Craig. As a kid, Michelle was feisty, determined, smart, and not one to be disrespected! However, behind her tough exterior, she was also harsh on herself deep down inside. Her parents were upfront of any questions Michelle and Craig might’ve had. They were down to earth parents, but they were very involved in their children’s lives, and they treated their kids like..well little adults. They trusted their kids would make the right decisions. I really admire Michelle. She was very focused on her education and making sure she did good. She was very humble as well. In one part, she discusses how her school had a break and they offered a trip to Paris, but she didn’t bother asking her parents because she knew how much they sacrificed for her and her brother to get a good education as is. She ended up doing great on her academics and was attempting to get into Princeton, a school her HS guidance counselor said she would never get into. Michelle reminded me of myself sometimes, and I love when I read a book and you can relate to the character, especially books on actual people.
I especially loved how she started talking about Barack (the sweetest ever). How she came to meet him and when they eventually hit it off. Barack is definitely a dreamy type of dude.I love that he was respectful of her and her family. How articulate and literary of a person he was (I really love his love for books). It was really great to see how her life turned out to be once she got together with Barack. Even though Politics wasn’t her thing, she still beside him with her two girls by her side. I will admit I got very angry when I read how babyish the republicans were about Barack being in office, and the countless awful things they said about Michelle and Barack. I love the fact that they were a historic first family. I think it’s amazing that they were so down to earth and just humble (something that obviously bothered people), but I think that’s what made people love them even more. It was really sad to read about her departure from the white house. I know all the people that worked for them were sad to see them go.
I overall enjoyed this book and it’s easily on my favorites of all time list. I recommend this book not on a political level, but on a human level. This book will definitely touch you.

2019’S TBR List

It’s that time again folks!

It’s time to share those TBR lists for the upcoming new year. I know that I’m definitely going to try to read everything on my list. I have NO EXCUSES now. I literally work at a bookstore.

I have a little over 10 titles I want to read….OKI lied!…more like 36 titles that I absolutely must read without a doubt. And since I am shooting for 100 books this year on my goodreads challenge, it really doesn’t matter. Ever since I started working at a bookstore, my love for reading has come back and I’ve read 4 books alone this month. Sometimes you just need a little push you know. I’m looking forward to reading the following titles this year and of course there’s many more, but these really tug at my bookworm heart strings.

1.Just After Midnight: Catherine Ryan Hyde

2.The Tattooist of Auschwitz: Heather Morris

3. The Woman in the Window: A.J. Finn

4. Heavy: An American Memoir: Kiese Laymon

5. What if it’s Us: Adam Silvera

6. 1,000 Books to Read Before you Die: A Life Changing List- James Mustich

7. Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves- Glory Edim

8. What if this Were Enough?: Heather Havrilesky

9. American Overdose: The Opioid Tragedy in Three Acts- Chris McGreal

10. Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves: Jesse Bering

11. The Library Book: Susan Orlean

12. Freshwater: Akwaeke Emezi

13. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: Hail Honeyman

14. A Spark of Light: Jodi Picoult

15. I’ll Be There for You: The one about Friends- Kelsey Miller

16. Nine Perfect Strangers: Liane Moriarty

17. 29 Dates: Melissa De La Cruz

18. The House Next Door: James Patterson

19. 22/11/63: Stephen King

20. The Mortuary Arts: John Gregory Hancock

21. Post Mortems: Carla Valentine

22. The Good Neighbor: Maxwell King

23. The Outsider: Stephen King

24. My Friend Dahmer: Derf Backderf

25. Insane: Alisa Roth

26. 23/7: Reiter Keramet

27. Locked In: John F. Auyero

28. The last Girl: Nadia Murad

29. Putting Makeup on Dead People: Jen Violi

30. Grave Matters: Mark Harris

31. The Undertakering: Thomas lynch

32. Curtains: Tom Jokinen

33. Down Among the Dead Men: Michelle Williams

34. Smoke gets into Your Eyes: Caitlin Doughty

35. I’ll be Gone in the Dark: Michelle McNamara

36. Parkland: Dave cullen

WHEW! that was exhausting but we have made it to the end of my list….for now! What are some of the books you’re looking forward to read in 2019? Comment below.

Oh, of course, HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Be safe and don’t drink or drive!

Feeding My Mother: Jann Arden

Title:Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as My Mom Lives with Memory Loss

Author:Jann Arden

Publisher:Random House

Pages: 224

Rating: 4/5

Jann Arden captured her experience with caring for her parents who had dementia. I can only imagine how heartbreaking, frustrating, and tiresome all this must’ve been for her. I myself have lost my grandmother, not in the same fashion as her but, I did and still felt a lot of guilt because I know I got frustrated a lot too with my grandmother taking care of her. It was always me doing the work and I myself was working a full-time job and going to school full-time as well. But, now after going through all this ordeal after her death I really wish she was still around. I felt a lot of emotions reading this book. It was refreshing to see all the great recipes Jann incorporated into her book. I actually want to try some of them out. I really think people who are dealing with a family member suffering from dementia or anything that requires them to be taking care of constantly should read this. You’ll cry, you’ll laugh, you’ll be angry, but that’s what a great book does.

Original Review Posted: 12/14/18

Halloween: John Passarella

Title: Halloween
Author: John Pasarella
Publisher:Titan Books
Pages:384
Rating:5/5

I was super excited to start this novel as I’ve seen the movie 3x in the theaters(would’ve been more if the theaters weren’t so small and there wasn’t a lot of people). I thoroughly enjoyed the novel. I’m glad there were certain parts in the novel that weren’t in the movie, simply because it was unnecessary. A lot of horror movies nowadays have too much things that can be left out, and they don’t focus too much on the horror aspect of the movie. Also I’ve noticed people make horror movies into comedy and that turns me off when I go to the theaters. I think Passarella did a great job captivating the movie onto pages. I felt like I was watching it all over again.

Overall a good recommendation for all Halloween fans.

Original Review Published:12/7/18

Mrs. Kennedy and Me: Clint Hill

I purchased this book at Barnes&Noble on one of my many normal visits. I was always fascinated with the Kennedy family, especially Jackie. This book was written beautifully. Clint Hill and Mrs. Kennedy’s relationship is a prime example of respect, integrity, trust, and heroism. I haven’t read many books on the Kennedy’s, but this book felt so personal…so respectful. Clint Hill was the assigned Secret Service agent assigned to Jacqueline Kennedy. I honestly can understand why Mrs. Kennedy preferred Mr. Hill as Secret Service agent. He was smart, articulate, respectful, professional, compliant, and always had Mrs. Kennedy’s safety in mind. Mr. Hill went above and beyond in his job and always made sure things were prepared in advance for Mrs. Kennedy whenever she needed something. The fact that he waited so long to publish this book shows his respect and also his feelings about the whole situation. You can really tell Mr. Hill is a sincere man and not just doing this for a quick buck. I can’t thank him enough for being such a great protector of Mrs. Kennedy and giving us a glimpse into her private life, as well as the time he spent with the Kennedy’s, especially Mrs. Kennedy. This book mad me feel many emotions; very beautiful.

Original Review Published:10/30/18

Strangler: Corey Mitchell

Title: Strangler

Author: Corey Mitchell

Publisher: Pinnacle Books

Pages: 373

Rating: 5/5

I picked up this book finally from my own private library and I honestly don’t know why it took me so long to pick it up. Anthony Allen Shore was a sick, twisted, and deranged individual. He used his intelligence, charm, and wit to try and outsmart the police and people around him. This book put me through a roller coaster of emotions and it baffled me that things like this really happened.What really surprised me is how his wife had no clue about what was going on, especially what was going on with her daughters; sickening. I’ve been on a true crime/serial killer binge and I can thank this book for doing that for me.

Original Review Published:10/3/16