Alex Grecian: The Yard

alexgrecianIn late nineteenth century London, it was commonly believed that crimes were committed out of habit or need, not passion. Indeed, the existence of serial killers was unheard until the killings of Jack the Ripper. Likewise, criminology, forensics, fingerprint identification were also radical. It was also the first time a detective is brutally murdered in this Victorian society.

Although Inspector Walter Day has little confidence in himself, he is chosen to replace retired Edwards as the newest member of Scotland Yard. Despite his lack of experience, he is now responsible for catching the man, or woman, who stabbed Detective Christian Little multiple times and sewed his mouth shut.

With the help of self-appointed forensic examiner Dr. Kingsley, Hammersmith, and Blackleg, Day discovers new clues that seem to be leading him closer to the killer. Not too long after a dancing homeless man, Henry, discovers the murder weapon, a young girl discovers another trunk… Another officer killed.

The second death only increases anxiety for the detectives who are already swamped with hundreds of crimes, most of which go unsolved. The fact that there are more crimes than detectives in the city only means that detectives must work overtime, are often unmarried, and have little time to wash or change their clothes. Thus, I would say that this book sheds light on the life of detectives, which Hollywood tends to glorify.

Ultimately it was a good read. Each murderer is gradually revealed to the reader, but at a much faster pace than they are revealed to the detectives. It is a thrilling book with such detailed descriptions that I had to skip over a few lines to keep myself from picturing the words in my head.

John Green & David Levithan: Will Grayson, Will Grayson


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It’s not so unusual to think that there is at least one person in this world who shares the same name as you. And in the Digital Age, all you have to do is Google or Facebook your name to find out who that is. What is highly unlikely, however, is that you would unexpectedly run into this person in a porn store after you’ve been ditched by your friends or “stood up” by your online relationship. Even more unlikely is that this person would end up dating your best friend or that you would end up dating that person’s best friend. But that’s the very story of straight Will Grayson and depressed and gay will grayson.

Will Grayson, will grayson is the first LGBTQ YA fiction I’ve read so far. For me, the book was less about homosexual relationships and more about how when we learn to look past our own hurts we can truly see how much we love and how much we are loved. We are able to truly see ourselves and truly see others. In fact, I didn’t even really notice the fact that two boys were falling in love. Of course this doesn’t matter. My point is that although Will Grayson, will grayson inolved homosexual relationships, it had much larger themes that overshadowed the fact that it features gay characters.

Kathleen Grissom: The Kitchen House

WK-BC920_ARENA_DV_20120814154317Although The Kitchen House takes place on a tobacco plantation in Virginia during the era of slavery, it was more about challenging traditional understandings of what constitutes a family. Lavinia is only seven years old when both of her parents die, her brother is sold away, and she is brought to the Pyke’s plantation to work as a servant in the kitchen. She is clearly different from the rest of Captain Pyke’s “properties.” She’s a white girl from Ireland with fiery red hair and freckles on her face.  However, throughout her childhood and even into young adulthood,  Lavinia remain largely oblivious to the different social positions of whites and blacks. While her innocent ignorance enables her to  regard Captain Pyke’s slaves as her own family, it also proves to be a double-edged sword.

Overall, I highly recommend this book as a must read. You will not be disappointed by how well the characters and their relationships with one another are developed. You may even find yourself thinking in the dialect used by some of the characters!

John Green: The Fault in our Stars

Hazel Lancaster and Augustus Waters meet at a weekly support group meeting for cancer patients, which both are sort of forced to attend. That very same day, their relationship begins with a movie, V for Vandetta, and an exchange of book recommendations. Hazel recommends An Imperial Affliction.

An Imperial Affliction becomes an essential part of their developing relationship. Upon completion, Gus becomes almost as curious as Hazel about how what happens to the characters in the book as the book literally has no ending. So Gus, who is obsessed with living a purposeful life, decides to use his last Wish (via Make a Wish Foundation) to help bring closure for Hazel. Despite several obstacles, both travel to Amsterdam to meet the author of the book himself, Peter Van Houten. Surely, he will know the fate of his characters.

The book ends a bit differently from what I initially expected. It’s not necessarily a happy ending, but it’s also not necessarily a sad one. But it is nonetheless heart-warming. Frankly, I miss the book already!
Overall, I highly recommend this book. It’s more than just a love story of two teenagers struggling with cancer. It’s also a story about finding infinity within a limited time frame.

Khaled Hosseini: And the Mountains Echoed

2013-08-07-hosseiniAnd the Mountains Echoed begins as Saboor tells his two children the story of a poor man, Baby Ayub, who chooses to let his youngest and most favored child go so that the boy can have a better future. Not only is this the last story Saboor entertains his children with, but also foreshadows the fate of Saboor’s daughter Pari. Pari and her older brother, Abdullah, are both devastated when Pari is given away to a wealthy couple in Kabul, the Wahdati’s, for they were unusually close. Following the story of Abdullah and Pari’s separation are a series of intertwined stories documenting the lives of a number of people who are all connected in some way.

One of the most memorable quotes for me was what Pari says to her niece – also named Pari – regarding her adoptive mother, Nila Wahdati,

“I wish I had been more kind. That is something a person will never regret. You will never say to yourself when you are old, Ah, I wish I was not good to that person. You will never think that”

Four hundred and sixteen pages long, this is truly a must read!

Patricia McCormick: Sold

Within the first few pages, I was hooked. Completely attached to Lakshmi, a thirteen year old country girl from Nepal. I feared for her when she was on her way to Calcutta, though she herself was oblivious of her situation. The whole time she fantasizes about the city with gold roofs; fantasizes about the luxuries her family can now enjoy with the money she earns as a maid. When Lakshmi arrives at the “Happiness House” and sees  girls “wearing dresses of ever color,” adorned with flashy jewelry, eyes painted “with black crayon,” and lips “like red chilis,” I wanted to tell her that this is not where movie stars live.

A short fictive novel based on extensive research and true experiences, Sold is a glimpse into the Indian sex trade.  You may find yourself cringing with Lakshmi, crumbling the book with hatred, when the fish-lips man becomes her first customer. You may find yourself shouting at the book, trying to get Lakshmi to understand that the American man is not trying to “trick you and shame you and make you walk naked in public.” No, he is your route to freedom. You will want to nudge her, encourage her to follow him.

Overall, this is truly a book worth reading. Although it did leave me with the devastating thought of, “if this is a toned down version of reality, than how much more cruel is reality for these girls?”