Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's my birthday YAAAAY!

Still missing you guys, no telling when my computer will be fixed. I shall return with a huge IMM and of course plenty of reviews, + more than a few giveaways!

Until then, wish me a happy birthday! :]

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Review: The Pencil Test by James Guilford

       My summary:
When Kendry Clare's drug-addicted mother Doris loses her job to her habit, she must move Kendry to East Atlanta--more than a few steps down from their life and home when Doris was at the peak of her career. But instead of disappointed, Kendry is excited to leave behind her non-existent social life at Crestman in hopes of being accepted at her new school; in hopes of getting in good with the girls she's seen on the train--the black girls.

Willing to do almost anything to win the hearts of the black girls, Kendry tells a life-altering lie on her first day at school that weaves a web of falseness around her world and ultimately affects the lives of everyone around her..

The Pencil Test was definitely something different for me. It is a novel that is dark, but in it's own beautiful way and it struck up emotions, thoughts and interests in me that I've never gotten from any other book.

My initial reaction to Kendry was that I could not relate to her. While I can understand the human need to fit in and to belong somewhere, especially considering Kendry's history, her fascination with the black girls came off as too obsessive for me to relate to.

On another level however, I could see myself in her shoes: On her first day at PLD (her new school in East Atlanta) she is the only white girl in the classroom, and says she feels "blaringly white." Being in an interracial relationship myself, it was easy (when we first started dating--now I'm used to it and know everyone) for me feel like I stuck out like a sore thumb when surrounded by my boyfriend's family/friends, so therefore I definitely found myself relating to her on that note.

As the book went on, I began to dislike Kendry more and more, and by the end of the book I all-out despised her. She was extremely fake and I felt like the fact that she joined the black movement group was really disrespectful, considering her true race. I was hoping for her to get caught in her lie.

Despite hating the main character, I can't say I disliked the book itself. I love how race fit into the plot. The black rebels group and Rastafarian segments made the book unique, which is great, but also left me slightly lost due to my lack of knowledge on the subject...but at the same time it left me wanting to learn more about it. The Pencil Test sparked a new interest in me and I can honestly say that's not something I get from every book I read.

I give The Pencil Test 3.5 stars and would recommend it to those who like the more dark drama young adult novels.

See my interview with James here.

Author Q&A: James Guilford

James Guilford, author of The Pencil Test, contacted me about reviewing his new novel, The Pencil Test, and was kind enough to also agree to answer a few questions for Buried In Books.

To learn more about James and his writing, visit his website here.

You can also download the first 5 chapters of The Pencil Test here!

Me: So your first novel, The Pencil Test, was released in November. Do you see yourself writing more novels in the future, or do you prefer sticking to essays and articles?

James Guilford: I definitely have more novels planned. Currently, I'm working on a book that can be best described as Precious meets The House on Mango Street.  I've been inspired by the fantasy movement to try my hand at something magical and futuristic.  This type of book has  been in my head for a while, actually.  We'll see how it works out.

Me: What genre of books do you like to read? Do you limit yourself to only the genre and topics that you write yourself?

JG: Currently, I'm reading a lot more nonfiction.  But I read fiction, mostly.  Inside of fiction, I''m branching out to graphic novels and fantasy.  I try to read little of every genre.  Doing so improves my writing.

Me: That being said, what are you reading now?

JG: Right now, I have  few books going.  I'm reading Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood.  It's a novel a futuristic novel--really bleak, but with a humorous elements.  There's a whole bio-fusion movement that has resulted in the creation of different species, like lion-lamb crossbreeds.  I'm also reading The Best American Essays 2008 and I've just picked up Michael Cunnighams' The Hours to re-read.

Me: It's so interesting that you seem to know so much about the Rastafarian movement-you include it in The Pencil Test and I see you've also written essays on it. Does your knowledge on the subject come from personal experience rather than research, or vice versa?

JG: Because I have dreadlocks (and amazing one's at that--lol), I also thought about becoming Rasti.  Earlier in my life, I had adopted some of the Rastafarian beliefs (I was briefly "spiritual" and briefly "vegetarian").  So, some of my knowledge comes from experience.  The bulk of what's in The Pencil Test, I'd say about ninety-five percent of the Rasta stuff, comes from research.

Me: What can we expect to see from you in the future?

JG: In the works next is a novella--about 120-pages.  It's both humorous and sad.  After this short work, I have a long fantasy-sci-fi novel that I'll tap off.  I'd written the first chapter right before finishing The Pencil Test.  I'm excited to get back to it.  I'm always writing articles about school and education and parenting, because I was a teacher for 10 years.

Thank you so much James, for giving me a chance to read your book, and also for answering these questions for my readers! :]

See my review of The Pencil Test here.

My computer monitor is broken.

For those who have been wondering where I've disappeared to, the screen on my computer is broken so all my blogging must be done @ the library or my dad's office. I've been going crazy! But I'll try to make it here as often as possible. I miss you all :(

You won't believe the deals I got!

So I just hit this book sale @ the Univ. of AL campus library and I'm so psyched I couldn't wait until In My Mailbox to share!

Paperbacks- these were only $1 each!!!!
Beautiful Americans
The Diamonds
Kissing Booth
My Big Nose & Other Natural Disasters
Second Skin
The ABCs of Kissing Boys

Hard covers-Only $3 each!!
Sea Change
Give Up The Ghost
The Espressologist
My Invented Life

ALL are BRAND NEW & I spent under $30!!!
I'm going crazy right now, lol :D