Rummanah Aasi

Description: Three years ago, when her older sister, Anna, was murdered and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best—the language of violence. While her own crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people. Not with Jack, the star athlete who wants to really know her but still feels guilty over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered. And not with Peekay, the preacher’s kid with a defiant streak who befriends Alex while they volunteer at an animal shelter. Not anyone. As their senior year unfolds, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting these three teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

Review: Mindy McGinnis's The Female of the Species has been on my reading pile since it's release in 2015. It sat on my pile for almost two years now, not because my interest in it has waned but rather I needed to be in the right head space to read it and appreciate it. This is a book that many people will be uncomfortable reading and for a good reason. It is an unflinching, brutal, and thought provoking look at rape culture, its insidiousness, and repercussions. After reading this book I had several emotions swirling in me such as heartache and anger, but most importantly I wanted to discuss it with someone.
  McGinnis transports the reader to a cage-like, small, impoverish town in Ohio where everyone knows everyone and people have rarely left. Teens seeking to escape their provincial lives turn to drinking, drugs, and sex. The book is told in three distinct voices of teens who struggle with sexual violence, both together and individually. Alex, Jack, and Peekay are three high school seniors looking ahead to life beyond high school. Alex is known as the girl whose sister Anna was raped and murdered. Jack is the golden boy who is blessed with looks, brains, and athleticism. Peekay, (real name Claire) a nicknamed dubbed by her classmates because she is the preacher's daughter, is the everygirl though she strays from her religious upbringing but still believes in the goodness of others. All three teens are haunted by the memory of Anna's murder and their outlook on life change as their relationships with each other shift.
  Alex is a fantastically complex character and the book's foundation. She does not fit neatly into any boxes and her ambiguous morality makes her compelling and flawed. When Anna's murderer walked free because of 'contaminated' evidence, she took the law into her own hands. She stalked and killed her sister's murderer and skillfully evaded any legal repercussions. Alex has become a vigilante (serial killer?) and protector of girls who have been victims of sexual abuse and unwanted sexual advances. So, is Alex a hero? An anti-hero? A villain? I don't know and I keep going in circles in my head, but I really loved her. Her voice is mature and she is keenly aware of her own actions and surroundings. It is very easy for McGinnis to isolate her protagonist to an isolated, cold-hearted killer, but she does humanize her by developing a friendship with Peekay and a romance with Jack.
  Unlike Alex, Peekay is a forgettable, ordinary girl for the most part. It is through her eyes that we see how girls illicit violence, with words instead of fists, upon one another or on themselves, whether it is through slut-shaming others and measuring themselves in sexual currency- where having a male openly and lasciviously gaze at your body is equivalent to self confidence. Peekay finally becomes a more three dimensional character when she comes in contact with Alex who helps her change her outlook, but she still keeps silent when she becomes a victim of attempted sexual assault due to shame. Her friendship with Alex brings the much needed light into this dark suspenseful story.
  Similarly to Peekay, Jack is probably the weakest character out of the three. Through his voice, we are given the male perspective where girls are constantly sexualized and objectified. Overall he is a good guy who tends to make his decisions with the lower half of his anatomy and struggles to make the right decisions. I didn't buy into his romantic relationship with Alex. It still struck me that he wanted Alex because she was an exotic and unattainable object. Like Peekay, he too begins to look closely at his actions and how he speaks as he becomes closer to Alex.
  The Female of the Species is not a perfect book. I had unanswered questions and had to suspend my disbelief on the absence of police officials for majority of the book. The book, however, does ask the reader to look closely to the behaviors that our society has normalized and quietly accepted. Some readers might feel that the topics of sexual abuse and assault are heavy handed in the book, but I disagree. It is treated with sensitivity but also portrayed with the necessary weight and power. This book should make your stomach churn, should make you angry, and should make you want to change our society. It is timely, important, and would make a terrific book discussion with mature teens. Despite my discomfort in reading it, I am glad that I did.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language throughout the book. Brief strong violence including attempted sexual assault, murder, and animal cruelty are mentioned in the book. Strong sexual content and underage drinking and drug usage are also mentioned thorough out the book. Recommended for mature teens only.

If you like this book try: All the Rage by Courtney Stevens, What Girls are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold
Rummanah Aasi

Description: Priyanka Das has so many unanswered questions: Why did her mother abandon her home in India years ago? What was it like there? And most importantly, who is her father, and why did her mom leave him behind? But Pri's mom avoids these questions--the topic of India is permanently closed.
  For Pri, her mother's homeland can only exist in her imagination. That is, until she find a mysterious pashmina tucked away in a forgotten suitcase. When she wraps herself in it, she is transported to a place more vivid and colorful than any guidebook or Bollywood film. But is this the real India? And what is that shadow lurking in the background? To learn the truth, Pri must travel farther than she's ever dared and find the family she never knew.

Review: Priyanka “Pri” Das is a talented artist who loves to make comics. She is a bit of a loner and outsider. She wants to know both why her deeply religious mother left India for California so abruptly years ago and her father’s whereabouts, but Pri's mother is very cryptic about her past and refuses to speak of India. When Pri discovers a mysterious pashmina tucked away in her mother's forgotten suitcase and wraps it around her shoulders, she is transported to an imagined, romanticized India. These panels burst with vibrant colors in contrast to the banal black and white images of her everyday life. In the magical India Pri has a talking elephant and peacock who serve as Pri's and the reader's tour guides and introduce us to the country's festivals, foods, and fashion, but Pri knows this isn't the realistic version of India, which is hinted by a ghost shaped woman who appears in the background. In order to find the answers to Pri's questions and see the real India, she will have to travel to India, where she learns about women’s choices—especially her mother’s—and living without fear.
  This is a well written debut graphic novel, but it left me wanting more. I appreciated how the portrayal of Indian culture was well balanced. The inclusion of Hindi words worked naturally in the text though it would have been a good idea on expanding the glossary on how to pronounce the words. Since I am familiar with Hindi already, I didn't not have a hard time understanding the words but for readers who are not familiar with the Hindi language might have some trouble. While the graphic novel touches upon classic themes of bicultural and immigrant conflicts, it also talks about women's roles and their constraints in the Indian culture. Although a lot can be inferred from the panels, I would really have liked if this topic was explored further and we got to see more ways on how the magical pashmina's influences a wide range of women in the graphic novel. I also wondered if Pri's mom was aware of the pashmina's magical abilities and if so, why did she hide it? A character like Pri is rarely featured in children and/or YA books because she is the daughter of a single mother, a family structure that is rarely represented and looked down upon in shame in the South Asian culture; another topic that could have been covered more thoroughly in the book. Though a bit lacking in some aspects, Pashmina is a welcoming addition to diverse graphic novels and I look forward to reading more from this creator.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 6 and up.

If you like this book try: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Rummanah Aasi
  Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine! I'm taking a slight detour from the upcoming book releases. Today I want to talk about the upcoming book to movie adaptations that I can not wait to see. I will try to add the release date information if it is available.



A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle is one of my childhood favorites. I remember reading it and being blown away by it in fourth grade. I also developed my first book boyfriend crush on Calvin O'Keefe. The cast of the movie is stellar and diverse: Mindy Kaling, Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon, Zach Galifianakis, and Michael Pena just to name a few. I hope to find some time to reread this classic before the movie comes out. The movie comes out on February 3, 2018.

I would be surprised if you haven't seen the trailer yet, but here is it down below in case you missed it:


Simon vs. the Homosapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli was one of my favorite debut novels from 2015. Funny, moving, romantic, and emotionally wise, this book will make you sigh in content and have a huge smile on your face when you are finished reading the last page. Though the movie has changed its title to Love, Simon, it has a wonderful diverse cast: Nick Robinson, Keiynan Lonsdale (aka Wally West from the Flash), Alexandra Shipp, Josh Duhamel, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. Though there are aspects of the trailer that have some fans nervous, Becky has told us to trust the film. The movie comes out on March 16, 2018.

I have watched the trailer several times and it just makes me smile. My favorite part is the end. Check out it below:



To All the Boys I Loved Before series by Jenny Han is also one of my favorite YA contemporary romance series. It has wonderful characters, an interesting plot, and the right balance between romance and an coming of age novel. Like Simon, this book will turn your frown upside down. If you have always wanted to try reading any of Jenny Han's books and don't know which book to pick up, I highly recommend this series. The news of this movie adaptation was a complete surprise to me. I had heard nothing of it until the last book in the series, Love Always and Forever, Lara Jean was published. The movie also has a diverse cast and stars: Noah Centineo, John Corbett, Israel Broussard, Janel Parrish, Lana Condor, and Anna Cathcart.

There is no trailer at the moment nor a release date but it will be sometime in 2018 as the movie is in post-production. I can't wait!


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is the most talked about YA book and debut novel of 2017. I would be shocked if it did not receive any accolades from the book community and does not appear on any of the best book lists. I have not read this book yet due to the big hype machine, but I do need to sit down and read it because I think the topic is timely and incredibly important. The movie has a great cast: Amandla Stenberg, Anthony Mackie, Regina Hall, and Common.

There is no trailer at the moment nor a release date but I will definitely will be looking forward to it when it comes to the theaters.



Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness was one of the few dystopian reads that I actually enjoyed during the dystopian reading trend. I liked the first book, Knife of Never Letting Go, but I didn't finish the other books in the series. The movie is currently in production and it stars: Tom Holland (aka Spiderman/Peter Parker) and Daisy Ridley (Rey from Star Wars). The movie is set to be released on March 1, 2019 so I have plenty of time to read and finish this series.


Rummanah Aasi

Description: An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

Review:  Jason Reynolds' latest YA book is a fast but powerful read. It reminded me of a cross between the equally moving John Singleton's movie, Boyz in the Hood, and the Christmas Carol. An odd combination that really works in this book. Unlike Reynolds past novels, Long Way Down is a novel in free verse, a format that perfectly captures the one minute and seven seconds snapshot of Will Holloman, the protagonist, taking an elevator.
 The story is set off by a chain reaction caused by a gunshot and the death of Will's brother Shawn who was killed while going on an errand for his mother. Will relays the Rules on how he is suppose to react to the murder: don't cry, don't snitch, and always get revenge. Will then proceeds to take Shawn's gun to kill his brother's killer and enters an elevator, but is he ready to take the next step and commit murder? As Will descends the seven floors of his building he is met with seven people at each floor who all are from his past and have been killed by the same cycle of violence that Will’s about to enter. He’s properly freaked out, but as the seconds tick by and floors count down, each new occupant adds new complexity to what seemed like a simple situation and pushes Will to examine his plans for that gun.
 Reynolds’ uses his words carefully and meticulously knowing that he has a limited time and space to tell his story and they also echo like gunshots and their impact is loud and visceral. In a short amout of pages his able to give us individual stories of the people in the elevator and gives us reasons as to what lead to their demise, their own personal choices or their surroundings that lead them to poverty, gang life, or simply injustice. The format and the fast pacing will work well with reluctant readers and there is a lot to discuss regarding themes and novel structure for advance readers too. The book ends on an open ended question, but I hope that Will makes the right choice. Long Way Down is a timely and personal look at the gun violence that is plaguing our lives today.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: Drug dealing, gun and gang violence are mentioned in the book. Recommended for Grades 7 and up.

If you like this book try: Monster by Walter Dean Myers, When I was the greatest by Jason Reynolds, How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
Rummanah Aasi
Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine! This week I am waiting for the release of two books, one adult and one YA: By the Book by Julia Sonneborn and I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman.



By the Book by Julia Sonneborn
Publish date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Gallery Books

I am usually wary of Jane Austen retellings, but this one sounds like a promising modern retelling of Persuasion, which is my favorite Austen novel. 
   
   Anne Corey is about to get schooled. An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book deal, snag a promotion, and boom! She’s in. But then Adam Martinez—her first love and ex-fiancĂ©—shows up as the college’s new president.
   Anne should be able to keep herself distracted. After all, she’s got a book to write, an aging father to take care of, and a new romance developing with the college’s insanely hot writer-in-residence. But no matter where she turns, there’s Adam, as smart and sexy as ever. As the school year advances and her long-buried feelings begin to resurface, Anne begins to wonder whether she just might get a second chance at love.



I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman
Publish Date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: Viking Books/Penguin Teen

 I always look forward to reading a book by one of my auto-read authors.  This book seems to focus on friendships and empathy. I think we all have felt lost at some point in our lives.

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from home to find the boy that he loves, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City after a family tragedy leaves him isolated on the outskirts of Washington state. After the three of them collide in Central Park, they slowly reveal the parts of their past that they haven't been able to confront, and together, they find their way back to who they're supposed to be.
Related Posts with Thumbnails