The Expedition by: Chris Babu | Book Review

The Expedition
By: Chris Babu
Genre: Dystopian Fiction, YA Fiction, Drama, Adventure
Rating: 3 stars
Publisher: Permuted Press
Release Date: December 4, 2018

IndieBound | Amazon | B&N |

Synopsis:

THEY SURVIVED THE INITIATION. NOW THE REAL TEST BEGINS.

Drayden and his friends thought nothing could be harder than the Initiation. Little did they know it had only been a warmup for the challenge that lay ahead.

With New America’s situation dire, Drayden and the pledges venture out into the unexplored world outside the walls, escorted by a team of elite Guardians. The group seeks to contact another civilization in what remains of Boston, but Drayden has secret goals of his own.

Dangers abound in the real world, including Aeru, the deadly superbug that wiped out humanity. While they battle the elements of a desolate landscape, a power struggle emerges within their ranks. The Guardians seem to be carrying out a covert mission themselves, and the quest turns everything they thought they knew about New America upside down.

My Thoughts

As this is a part of a series, I thought it best to separate my personal pros and cons in a generic way because some of my notes directly relate to the open-ended plots of the series. In addition to a few of the plot twists that happen in the last few chapters of this book in particular.

PROS:

Overall, The Expedition offers way more character development, action and suspense scenes than book one. It also gives the reader more in details on the secrets the Bureau wants to keep hidden from the people of New America and even a (very) few details about the main character, Drayden, mother’s exile. Drayden shows that the Initiation has given him more of a backbone and a willingness to assert himself in a position of power when going up against a few Bureau members and Guardians, even if the odds are stacked against him.

His character showing and taking initiative during their journey outside of the wall towards Boston made him more likable (in my opinion) compared to book one because he doubted himself too much and was really reserved. This, I feel was a combination of Drayden having to process what happened to his mother, best friend and the Initiation one after another. So, I thought to see him actually acknowledge this a bit in the book while going to Boston was pretty fundamental.

Of the other three who made it through the Initiation with him, I didn’t really feel there was a major shift in their characters between the two books; more like Drayden seemed more comfortable with them as a team and people he could trust. In book one, because Drayden was smart, everyone kind of leaned on him as a default. In this book, his leadership has been earned and I actually agreed that he deserved the leadership and respect that he was fighting for.

Moreover, I really liked the strength and bond present in this book among Charlie, Sydney, Drayden, and Catrice because it was something I could bank on growing even stronger facing the dangers outside of the wall. Both with the strangers they encountered along the way as well as with the group of Guardians assigned to go with them.

CONS:

In order to get to the core of this book, I was gifted book one to read also. I think that out of the two, I preferred The Expedition over The Initiation because the story has Drayden placed in the middle of an active, narrative plot that shows his character in more progressively/active manner. He is a deeply flawed character that struggles to grasp the people and situations around him. I appreciate a flawed protagonist and find it interesting when the secondary characters draw attention to the same flaws or begin to dislike the main character the same way that I do.

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When Women Ruled The World by: Kara Cooney | Review

When Women Ruled The World
By: Kara Cooney
Genre: History, Politics, Egypt, Non-fiction
Rating: 2 stars
Publisher: National Geographic Society
Release Date: October 30, 2018

National Geographic | Amazon | B&N |

Synopsis:  This riveting narrative explores the lives of six remarkable female pharaohs, from Hatshepsut to Cleopatra–women who ruled with real power–and shines a piercing light on our own perceptions of women in power today.  Female rulers are a rare phenomenon–but thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, women reigned supreme. Regularly, repeatedly, and with impunity, queens like Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra controlled the totalitarian state as power-brokers and rulers. But throughout human history, women in positions of power were more often used as political pawns in a male-dominated society. What was so special about ancient Egypt that provided women this kind of access to the highest political office? What was it about these women that allowed them to transcend patriarchal obstacles? What did Egypt gain from its liberal reliance on female leadership, and could today’s world learn from its example?

Celebrated Egyptologist Kara Cooney delivers a fascinating tale of female power, exploring the reasons why it has seldom been allowed through the ages, and why we should care.

My Thoughts:

I really wanted to dive into this book and become immersed within its promise of breaking down the ancient, political power and stance for six of Egypt’s female Pharaohs, while comparing and contrasting it to the United States’ current political landscape from the female opposition.

However, the further I got into the book, the more I felt a deviation from the promised synopsis and expectations I had for the context. As I did not think it would resonate with any forward-thinking, politically-conscious feminists interested in similarities or uniquely explicit details of these female pharaohs’ reign (as I was) that could have been seen as awe-inspiring.

On top of feeling left out of the conversation as a queer, WOC in the perspective and points made for the “female” opposition. I felt dishearten and saddened by all the negativeness toward women with the general stance of this book. I just could not bring myself to stand behind it and it was really upsetting to be so excited to read this book and to come out on the other side having not liked it.

There were a few things that I felt went wrong with the direction and overall tone of this book that each chapter continued to repeat or reword a negative (semi)dated, and de-constructive viewpoint of the female in regards to both the past and the current references of women in power. I say “semi” because there are still difficulties, stereotypes, and biases that women in politics and positions of power have to face in the present. However, I strongly felt a lack of inclusion/mention of several positives that have happened over the years. Continue reading

Why Does Bringing Awareness to & Talking About Mental illness Matter To Me?

Well over two months ago, Awarecause reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in sharing my story for a cause that was important to me. I was really surprised that they reached out to me and also really excited to take part.

I agreed to share and they sent me a promo code to purchase a necklace at a discounted price and I got it two days later. I wear my #Awarecause necklace nearly every day and as I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, I thought I’d share a longer post about it.

I was originally going to pick a pink AWARE necklace for two women in my life that I have lost to breast cancer and talk about them, but as it was meant to be a personal “your story,” I decided to purchase the mental illness AWARE necklace instead. Just that category alone is compacted with so many different variables, but I try to stick to the two that have affected me throughout my life and I hope other readers are able to connect with it as well.

I see my story as being very interconnected with so many different points of my life that it is kind of hard to pinpoint just one thing that I associate with the importance of mental illness. As a detail-oriented person and essentially a type-A personality, I am known to others as being a self-starter and so internally driven that not much of anything will leave a dent or cause me, for even a second, to slow down.

But that’s not the case—I do not think that it can be like that with anyone, ever. I am the oldest in my family, so on top of natural pressure that leaves on me to work hard, be a role model and this spearheaded, pristine example, I face my ups and my downs.

What most people may not know about me is that every day I live/fight with and adjust to a physical disability that I was born with. I can walk but my disability has its limitations, and sometimes I have worse days than others to simply make it downstairs to walk my dog but I power through it. Keeping my mental state stronger, more determined, committed and progressive over my legs and body being in so pain and discomfort that I can’t really move around is a constant struggle.

All my life it has caused me to go through such overwhelming bouts of anxiety and depression, especially when I was younger and in school. Seen as the petite girl who walked funny or was occasionally walking half the day and in a wheelchair for the rest. While I know that being handicap(able) will always have its ups and down, I also know that it shouldn’t and cannot prevent me from doing everything I set my mind on.

But not every day has been filled with unwavering gumption, assurance, and confidence. Even though I am older now, those thoughts and feelings can still weigh on my mind. I’m more fortunate than others who lose that fight every day which is another reason why I think it’s important to continue to raise awareness and bring attention to anxiety, depression, and all other forms of mental illness.

Thank you so much for stopping by and viewing this post. And huge thank you to Awarecause for reaching out and asking me to share.

 

 

 

Until the next post,
Gia J

Louisiana Catch by: Sweta Srivastava Vikram | Book Review

Louisiana Catch
By: Sweta Srivastava Vikram
Genre: Domestic Abuse, Drama, Self-Esteem, Personal Growth
Rating: 4 stars
Publisher: Modern History Press
Release Date: April 10,2018

IndieBound | Amazon | B&N |

Synopsis:
Ahana, a wealthy thirty-three-year-old New Delhi woman, flees the pain of her mother’s death, and her dark past, by accepting a huge project in New Orleans, where she’ll coordinate an Annual Conference to raise awareness of violence against women. Her half-Indian, half-Irish colleague and public relations guru, Rohan Brady, who helps Ahana develop her online presence, offends her prim sensibilities with his raunchy humor. She is convinced that he’s a womanizer. Meanwhile, she seeks relief from her pain in an online support group, where she makes a good friend: the mercurial Jay Dubois, who is also grieving the loss of his mother. Her work in the U.S. and the online medium bring the two men into her life, and Ahana learns that neither is what he seems. With their differing sensibilities on a collision course, Ahana finds herself in a dangerous situation—and she discovers a side of herself that she never realized she had.

Louisiana Catch is an emotionally immersive novel about identity, shame, and who we project ourselves to be in the world. It’s a book about Ahana’s unreliable instincts and her ongoing battle to determine whom to place her trust in as she, Rohan, and Jay shed layers of their identities.

As Ahana matures from a victim of domestic sexual abuse into a global feminist leader, she must confront her issues, both with the men in her life and, ultimately, with her own instincts. Whom can she rely on to have her best interests at heart?

 

My Thoughts

In a nutshell, Louisiana Catch centers around a woman, Ahana, who has completely lost her self. She just got out of a marriage that has caused her to break down due not only to the downward glances of those in society but also due to a secret she has never told anyone. Her ex-husband was emotional controlling and both physically and sexually abusive. The domestic abuse in Ahana’s marriage from her ex-husband still lingers around everything in her life.

And while she has the support and guidance of her strong, smart and independent mother to fall back on, that over-protectiveness and sheltered world Ahana allows her mother to place her in, only continues to hinder her. I loved Ahana’s mother; it was clear she was well respected, sweet, kind and knew her worth, but following along Ahana’s journey without her, other readers might pick up on how much influence she really had in her daughter’s life.

When we are introduced to Ahana’s character, she’s stuck at a mid-point in where she is unsure of how and in which direction to move forward in her life and unable to face or talk about her marriage and the sexual abuse.

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Journeys Of A Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips | Book Review

Journeys Of A Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips
Genre: Travel, Explore, Informative, Non-Fiction
Publisher: National Geographic Society
Release Date: October 23, 2018

  

Synopsis: Featuring 120 new destinations, this best-selling inspirational travel guide reveals 500 celebrated and lesser-known destinations around the globe, from ocean cruises in Antarctica to horse treks in the Andes. Completely revised and updated for its 10th anniversary.

Compiled from the favorite trips of National Geographic’s legendary travel writers, this fully updated, 10th anniversary edition of Journeys of a Lifetime spans the globe to highlight the best of the world’s most celebrated and lesser-known sojourns. Offering a diverse array of possibilities, every continent and possible form of transport is covered, illustrated with glorious color photographs. With 16 new pages; new destinations like Cartegena, Colombia; and updated information throughout, this timely new edition is the perfect resource for travelers who crave adventurous trips–from trekking the heights of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to mountain biking in Transylvania–and those searching for more specific experiences (the world’s top small cruises, hot new museums around the world, secrets for following in the footsteps of film and TV heroes, and more). Each chapter features stunning photography, full-color maps, and practical tips, including how to get there, when to visit, and how to make the most of your journey.

Informative and inspiring, this luxurious volume is a lifelong resource that readers will treasure for years to come.

My Thoughts:

First off, I think this book will definitely make those novice or inexperienced travelers that lack that last nudge of motivation to plan their first trip thirsty, hungry and excited to travel around the world.

The pictures in this (text)book of travel were exquisite and while I share a few photos from the book, I know that I am not doing them enough justice. Some of the pictures I chose to share with you today were places I personally wanted to visit and others were just a few that really caught my eye while perusing through the pages.

The book of sectioned off into a number of categories that offers a bit of something for the travelers who seek out great places to eat, to hike, to take in the scenery, to see iconic landmarks etc. So, if your goal is to plan your trip or pick a destination based on specific parameters, Journeys of a Lifetime gives you the options of Across Water, By Road, By Rail, On Foot, In Search of Culture, In Gourmet Haven, Into The Action, Up & Away and In Their Footsteps. Going through this book brought back so many Art History memories and I LOVED it. Especially in the in Search of Culture section.

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Yeled Tov by: Daniel M. Jaffe | Book Review

 

Yeled Tov by: Daniel M. Jaffe

Genre:YA, Coming of age, mental illness, LGBT, Religion

Rating:4 stars

Release: April 18, 2018

Publisher: Lethe Press

Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis: As he’s about to turn 16 in the mid-1970’s, Jake Stein notices a prohibition in Leviticus that never caught his eye before:  “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.”  This discovery distresses Jake, an observant Jewish teen, because he’s recently been feeling increased attraction to other teen boys and men. He’s even been engaging in sexual exploration with his best friend.  In an attempt to distract himself, Jake joins his high school’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank, but falls in love with the romantic male lead, obsessively fantasizing about him.  Jake feels lonelier than ever.

The next year, while a freshman at Princeton University, Jake falls for his handsome roommate, is beset by serious temptations, and engages in a traumatic sexual encounter with a stranger.  Seeking help from God, Jake tries to alter his desires, even dates a young Jewish woman in the hopes that she can change him, but to no avail.   Jake concludes that God could never love an abomination like him, so he attempts to prove his faith by ending his own life.

After he’s saved by his roommate, Jake receives unexpected support from doctors, family, and friends, some of whom have been suspecting his secret.  With their help, Jake explores a different way of thinking about the rules of Torah and himself, and begins to consider that he might actually be a yeled tov, a good Jewish boy, just the way he is.

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How To Wine With Your Boss: & 6 Other Tips To Fast Track Your Career By: Tiffany Yarde| Book Review

How To Wine With Your Boss: & Six Other Tips To Fast Track Your Career
By: Tiffany Yarde
Genre: Advice, Social Mobility, Wine, Career Development, Non-Fiction
Rating: 5 stars
Release Date: June 19, 2018
Publisher: Prodigy Gold Books

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N|

Synopsis:

Fourteen years of working in highly competitive international corporations will teach a person a lot about relationships, politics, and the “natural order” of things. There’s no one way to the top of a respective field but there are tactics that many people employ to build trust and to make sure their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. “How to Wine With Your Boss” teaches you about positioning, tact, and how to tool your passions.

Wine is Tiffany’s story. For much of her career in accounting, marketing, and human resources, she has used her wine knowledge to connect with people. Inside, she takes readers through the journey of how she built relationships with colleagues who didn’t come from where she came from or necessarily saw the world through her lens. She gives readers an opportunity to build professional development skills while demystifying “wine enthusiasm” and potentially helping readers gain a new curiosity on the subject. People don’t grow in isolation; they grow with other people, so join Tiffany on this wine trip through grape regions, styles, and wine parties. While on the road, she’ll share the bumps she hit, and the resilience she fostered along the way

Book Review:

 

I loved reading How To Wine With Your Boss; the author covers a ton of helpful and relevant topics from mentors to networking, confidence building, finding a professional and personal balance in life, corporate culture, micro-aggression and of course a number of useful details about wine.

With the few topics I specifically want to draw attention to from this book, I first wanted to say how great I felt every subject covered in this book was–from start to finish. Simply because Yarde offers insightful, helpful, and motivational material with a genuinely sincere and honest tone. Moreover, written in a gender-neutral manner as to not isolate potential readers, making it the perfect book to share with my brothers and all of my friends.

A Book For Everyone:

How To Wine With Your Boss should, in my opinion, go on the ultimate list of books to have/read when you are looking for something that will help you to revamp your career and professional networking approach, self-confidence, self-evaluation or you if just want a light-hearted, crash course on wine–this would be the book for you.

Whether you are an intern or a pretty “seasoned” professional in the career world, it is the kind of book you might find yourself rereading, memorizing or carrying around with you long after reading it (like I did).

On a personal level, How To Wine With Your Boss felt like the perfect book suited to my lifestyle and career as a freelancer but with the next-step-guide, I need to transition into a new career venture. Reading this book also felt like a personal journey that would have been detrimental to my twenty-three-year-old-self trying to find her way a few years ago.

Pat Yourself On The Back, You’ve Earned It:

As Yarde’s steps and proposed accomplishment journal idea definitely felt like a self-journey an eye-opener for me as she discusses how branding or re-branding yourself to put your best career-foot forward is by putting your best self forward by showcasing your gifts, skills, and passions. Which is where the accomplishment journal comes in to play as it allows you to put all of the obstacles or goals you have already conquered in front of you, on to a page, that may have gone unrealized.

And it doesn’t have to be work/career centered accomplishments but personal, little ones–even from daily, weekly and yearly to-do lists–that you put down. When I started to do this, I was amazed by how long the list and my entries became in just a short time. This practice of accomplishment journaling with the physical representation of measuring one’s worth, value and potential will stick with you long after finishing the book.

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The Athlete Student: Freshman Year By: Eugene Holloman | Book Review & Scholarship Opportunity!??

Title:The Athlete Student: Freshman Year
Genre: Sports, Student-life, Fiction
Rating: 3.5
Release Date: February 1st 2018
Synopsis:
High school senior Michael “Tootie” Mayberry has a dream of becoming a professional football player—but he faces one obstacle, COLLEGE.  Over 480,000 student-athletes like Michael “Tootie” Mayberry want to play professionally, but less than 3.5% will. They train hard, planting and watering the mental seed that tells them they will reach the pinnacle of their sport. In the process, they often pick the easiest major available, and after graduation, they pay for it.

HOW DO STUDENT-ATHLETES GET TO THIS POINT?

Join “Tootie” Mayberry as he embarks on his college career, balances the stresses of high-level performances on the field and in the classroom, and fights through other challenges student-athletes face.

 

BOOK REVIEW:

My first impression of this book was that it read like a novella because it was not an extremely long story and that it was passable for as an upper-middle school appropriate book for the most part. However, the author was able to touch on a lot of different scenarios as to how life as an athlete in school can be a huge challenge and a bit of a burden.

Such as the pressure to be good, to stand out, to stick to your guns and your passion; on top of the pressure from the media can affect you when aspects of your life start to unravel. With all that being said, I would have liked it if there were better pacing and resting periods in between each issue/obstacle that Tootie faced in this story. The reason for that is because it began to feel like everything was happening all at once the closer I got to the end and it made processing it all (and Tootie’s reactions) a bit difficult.

I think I should also mention that I am NOT a sports person by any means. Which is why I really liked the insight this book gave me about the high school to college football experience; from picking the perfect school or what might feel like the perfect school possibly feels like for athletes. As well as just how much they are pushed, both physically and mentally, in school with having such a rigorous schedule separate from the academic side of college.

Just from my personal experience, I knew and felt the pressure of the projects, test, papers, and studying. So, this book was really an eye-opener. It was also great to see the way Tootie’s s character instantly knew what college was right for him based on his personal aspirations for the future contrasted to the different ideas and expectations from nearly everyone else in his life perceived for the future. Tootie seemed to see those options as “safe” and “basic” schools, which I could really respect because he had something to prove, but at the same time, it gives Tootie a tough and maturing life lesson to learn and experience all on his own.

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