ARC Review: The Undertaker’s Assistant- Amanda Skenandore

Title: The Undertaker’s Assistant

Author: Amanda Skenandore

Publisher: Kensington Publishing

Pages: 336

Rating: 5/5

Set during the reconstruction era in New Orleans
Effie Jones is an escaped slave who made it to the union. She was raised by a army surgeon and his wife. She learned to read and write and other skills.

When she returns to New Orleans, she comes across a undertaker wise looking for help. Effie is looking for work as a embalmer. Her main purpose is to be able to trace back to her family roots and reconnect with them. Effie is great at her job. She’s quiet but she pays great attention to detail. She has vast knowledge of science and anatomy, but the color of her skin makes people not take her serious. She still did her job with love and care. Always very professional with the deceased. Not only that, but she always seemed to come to her employers’s aide when he couldn’t do his part.

Eventually Effie started to involve herself with political and racial activism and started to fall in love with a legislator by the name of Samson Greene. Follow Effie’s adventures as she deals with her job,employer, the boarding house, activist groups and more. I must say this book started very slow for me and I had to put it down many times, but it finally picked up and I was able to get back into it. Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Publishing for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

ARC Review: An American Summer- Alex Kotlowitz

Title: An American Summer

Author: Alex Kotolowitz

Publisher: Nan A. Tales

Pages: 282

Rating: 5/5

An American Summer is a riveting inside look in to the lives of those living in the rough areas of Chicago. Stories of young men who grew up surrounded by the ever growing violence in chicago. Chicago is known for related violence, low income, and segregated neighborhoods. Most of the violence being tied into gang violence.
The author interviewed social workers, police officers, convicted killers, politicians etc. The young men being interviewed basically were forced to join these violent gangs to protect either themselves or their families. They believe in the “No Snitching” rule and frown upon law enforcement.

This book gives you an insightful look at how terrifying it is just to walk down the street with a fear of possibly getting shot or being a victim of some type of violent crime. One young man in particular talks about being a kid and killing a gang rival and 20 years later still thinking about it. Things like that just mess with your mental stability. It’s so heartbreaking seeing what these young men are going through. What could have been done to prevent all this? I think every school, including colleges and universities that deal with Criminal justice need to have this book in their curriculum. It’s definitely one of those eye opening books. I’m so glad I had a chance to read this. This is one of those books that sticks with you forever. Thank You to NetGalley and Nan A. Talese for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Color Me In- Natasha Diaz

Title: Color Me In

Author: Natasha Diaz

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 373

Rating: 5/5

Naveah Levitz is trapped in two different worlds. Her parents recently split up and she has to travel and stay in between two places. Her grandfather’s home in Harlem and her childhood home in White Plains with her dad. For a while Naveah has felt she didn’t belong anywhere. As a bi-racial kid it’s hard to feel any level of acceptance anywhere…including within her own family. Naveah has only been exposed to her white side (she’s half black and half white). Her cousins and her aunt are trying to connect her with her black heritage, while her bone head father tries to to show her her Jewish roots. Evening going as far as preparing her for Hebrew school and throw a bat Mitzvah (3 years too late). His purpose for it….so she doesn’t lose her head and act too “black”. It’s even worse because her cousin Jordan is consistently reminding her she isn’t welcomed into the black community. Especially since Naveah is too blinded about what’s going on within the black community. Things start to get even more tense between her and Jordan when Jesus, Jordan’s long time crush starts to fall for Naveah. With all this plus all the problems at her white preppy school, Naveah finds comfort in her poetry and her mother’s diary that she happens to find in her grandfather’s attic.

I want to thank the author for sharing her experiences a multi-racial individual through this book. She even explains it at the end of the book. It was really though provoking and insightful. There were numerous characters mentioned in the book. But it was easy to keep up with them and I didn’t feel feel overwhelmed by them.

*Stevie- Naveah’s best friend whose also bi-racial (White and Chinese). A talented dancer and performer. He’s an amazing friend overall.
*Abby- I hated this girl with everything in my soul. The things that she would say were disgusting and I often wanted to jump through my phone and wanting to punch her in the throat. I’ve dealt with a Abby at my previous job and let me tell you…I’m really starting to hate the name Abby.
*Jesus- Towards the beginning of the book I wasn’t really feeling Jesus. I thought he was going to be one of those guys and honestly I was anticipating him turning into a dog. I think I started to partially warm up to him towards the end of the book.
*Rabbi Sarah: At first she was annoying to me, but I warmed up to her once I saw that she was down to earth.

There were other characters in the novel. I think the two characters that I hated the most were Navaho’s dad and his new stupid girlfriend Ashleigh. Holy crap what a bunch of turds. I will warn you some of the content in the book will anger you. So be on the lookout for racism, name calling, and sexual assault. It was frustrating enough reading about, I can’t imagine someone going through it. The a book makes you feel all the feelings I did while reading it…you know you have a banger.

Overall the book was fantastic and I really enjoyed it. I devoured it in two days. A story that deals with the true meaning of friendship, love, and dealing with with a difficult family….and of course learning how to accept the true you. 5/5 for me. Thank you to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Nanaville- Anna Quindlen

Title: Nanaville

Author: Anna Quindlen

Publisher: Random House

Pages: 162

Rating: 5/5

“Where I once led, I have learn to follow”
-Anna Quindlen

I’ve always loved Anna Quindlen’s writing. Always full of spunk and quirkiness. This memoir speaks about Quindlen’s experience of being a grandma. It’s so refreshing to see her take this role and transition from mom mode. One of my favorite chapters would have to be the “No’s” chapter. I’m sure that’s one of the most hardest parts of being a grandmother. Knowing you no longer have that control, or can create the rules. It’s a bitter pill to swallow but, most have gone through it or will eventually go through it.
I picked up this book because I was raised by my grandmother, sadly she passed away in 2017 and have been pretty out without her. I wanted to read something heartfelt about the love of a grandmother. I really enjoyed it and I recommend it to anyone whose a soon to be grandmother or who already is. Thanks to NetGalley and Radon house for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine- Maika and Maritza Moulite

Title: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

Author: Maika and Maritza Moulite

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Pages: 432

Rating: 5/5

When an incident at her school gets Alaine almost suspended, she is told to go back to her country and complete a internship at her aunt’s non-profit organization. Its called PATRONAL, which is an app created to help fund children in need in Haiti. While in Haiti she’s able to learn more about her country, and of course develop a cute crush on one of the interns. The book is full of lots of Haitian history and culture(I would’ve liked if this also talked about beautiful areas in Haiti). She learned quite a bit of her family history as well….especially when there’s a curse involved.

Follow Alaine as she takes you through her island, and some rather heart wrenching moments, especially those involved with her mom. I think it’s so important to see how she dealt with her moms dementia. That was honestly one of my fave parts of the story (not in a messed up way). Another great thing about this novel is that it’s written by two sisters. Kudos to Maika and Maritza Mountie. You created a beautiful story full of representation. Thank You to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I definitely need a copy of it on my shelf.

ARC Review: Carnegie Hill- Jonathan Vatner

Title: Carnegie Hill

Author: Jonathan Vatner

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Hill Books

Pages: 352

Rating: 2/5

We meet Pepper, a 33 year old woman with no job, no life, and no ambition. She just moved out of her parent’s house and lives with her fiancee Rick. She lives in Chelmsford Arms, a NYC apartment complex for the snooty and hight and mighty.

Holy crap the amount of characters in this book and the majority that I didn’t care for. What bunch of boring and troubling people. Rick was just a hot mess and a piece of crap (you’ll see if you read the book), Birdie is trying to spice up her relationship with her husband George, but they’re both lost and confused me. Francis just complained too much like Pepper, and Caleb just had a normal life which was bland.

I don’t know, this book just did not do it for me. The writing was horrible, the characters were so flat that I couldn’t even relate to them. I’m not saying I wanted to have an exact depicted life of a fictional character, but I wanted to at least go: “Man I know how they feel”. The author could’ve done better. Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Dunne books for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Curse of the Evil Librarian- Michelle Knudsen

Title: Curse if the Evil Librarian

Author: Michelle Knudsen

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Pages: 336

Rating: 5/5

I remember taking out ‘The Evil Librarian’ a few years ago from the library. I remember devouring it within two days. I had no idea it was going to be a trilogy and I happily checked out the second book and devoured that one too. Now we’re here on the third and final installment of the series. I was very glad to see in depth analysis of the characters. I’m a sucker for knowing the backgrounds of characters.

We continue with the spunky Cynthia and accompany her on her senior year of school, where she hopes she doesn’t have to deal with anymore evil librarians. However, that’s the not the case. Mr. Gabriel is back and more evil than ever! He’s like the Michael Myers of Librarians…HE JUST WON’T DIE!..everytime Knudsen brings him back, he’s badder and better than ever. That’s what I think keeps making this series so good. We have to stan the characters for having grown up and taking matters into their own hands. DEFEAT THOSE DEMONS! And that’s what brings them closer together. I really enjoyed this book. Brought back a lot of good memories back. Thank you to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.