Tyler Johnson Was Here| A Book About Loving Your Blackness and Fighting For Those Who Can’t Fight For Themselves

Tyler Johnson Was HereTyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Goodreads Summary: When Marvin Johnson’s twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid.

The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it’s up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean

TW: Racism, Police Brutality, Death of a Family Member/Sibling, Grief

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“I tell myself that I love this skin, that I’ve always loved my blackness, that if the world doesn’t love me, I will love myself for the both of us.”

OKAY, THIS IS NEARLY 5 STARS IF IT WASN’T FOR THE WEIRD PACING.

Although my rating may not reflect it, this was the best depiction of police brutality, the black lives matter movement, and racism.

This book made me tear up literally 4x

BLACK LOVE. Don’t get me wrong, I love interracial relationships (I’m mixed myself), but I HARDLY SEE BLACK LOVE AND IM DIGGING IT. God this book was just so pro black 😭😭✊🏿Also, being black in a predominantly white setting is relatable. I love that it talked about not wanting to be a “token.”THE FRIENDSHIPS IS JUST SO PRECIOUS

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The Plot/Pacing

My only gripe with this book is the weird pacing. According to the synopsis, we know that a police officer shoots Marvin’s twin brother, Tyler without any cause. However, we actually didn’t get to that point until about 50-60% of the book so for about half of the book, Marvin is worried the whereabouts of his brother, but we know that he’s dead. I don’t know if this was a creative decision by the author but I just thought it was awkward and kind of made the book slower paced than it needed to be.

The Characters

Marvin was just the best. Although he’s passionate about academics and his future, he recognizes the importance of caring for the ones he loves. His strong bond with his brother is so sensible, and his worries about his brother make the audience worried as well.  He also cares for the well-being of his friends, his mother and even his crude principal who constantly puts him down. However, don’t think he is incapable of standing up for himself because he does that several times throughout the book. Marvin overall is just an extremely compassionate character and one I won’t forget.

I would also like to mention the diverse set of side characters. We have POC and queer side character that are naturally included. We even get a glimpse of the hardships that different marginalized groups have to endure, including deportation.

There’s also huge importance of friendships. Marvin and his friend group were just so precious and healthy. You know when a tragic event happens to a character, and he withdraws himself from their friends, but the friends get all butthurt, so the character apologizes? Guess what, it’s non-existent in this book. The friends are understanding empathetic. They still care for Marvin even though he slips away from them. Marvin also acknowledges his behavior which again demonstrates just how selfless he is.

No relationship drama and no friend drama…this book is underrated.

The Romance

One thing I find iffy about these types a book that explicitly is about a social issue is the incorporation of romance. For some reason, I just find them unnecessary and never really fully developed. However, I adored the relationship between Marvin and Faith. It felt authentic and not really just added for kicks. Also, this is an all black romance! Now, I know that you may be wondering, “but Q, interracial is amazing, right? You’re biracial yourself!” Yes, I understand it’s importance since our westernized society is mixing, even more, these days and overall just promotes inclusion. I love reading about interracial relationships, especially when both persons are POC (Let’s Talk About Love!). However, I rarely see a black/black romance in ANY YA novel, so this was just a breath of fresh air! The way Marvin treats describes respects faith is just beautiful. Black people loving other black people is so meaningful, and I want to read more of these types of relationships. Also a YA book without the miscommunication trope?!?!?!?!

Race, College, Police Brutality

“Who gets to be free?
Is someone free when they don’t have to think about the way people look at them or treat them because of the color of their skin? Is someone free when they don’t have to spend time on this earth with people who have hearts made of hate? Or is someone only really free when they’re no longer a part of this world?”

Like I said before, Marvin is ambitious when it comes to his life after college. He thinks he wants to go to MIT but questions if he’s the right fit. Okay, it’s no lie that when it comes to non-historically black colleges, the black population is significantly lower than other races (at least when it comes to Califonia universities). He questions his fit when a college recruiter repeatedly hints they only want Marvin not just because of his stellar grades and extracurriculars (both that fits the MIT build), but because of the color of his skin and even his “tragic” story. He feels uncomfortable when they imply that they think his brother getting shot was an “obstacle” he had to jump. Getting a shot by a person who is supposed to protect and serve the community is not an obstacle (college admissions get off on tragedy porn). When it comes to affirmative action or other similar topics, think that people of color want a higher advantaged because of their race which is not true at all (I can talk about this topic forever). Marvin is a pivotal example of black people not wanting to become a token at a higher institution. Black people want the equity of treatment.

The book also addresses the opposition when it comes to police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. Marvin makes it clear the “All Lives Matter” is just a phrase to silence marginalized voices because the “all” means just white. Marvin makes it clear that, yes, not all police officers are bad, but that doesn’t mean we ignore the blatant superiority and racism that many of them do possess. Marvin makes it clear that it shouldn’t matter if his brother were a “thug” or a straight As student because no one deserves to die, especially black people. That’s why I said in my initial thoughts that I believe this to be one of the best books that talks about the Black Lives Matter movement because it debunks so many of the false narratives opposers tries to push. 

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There are so many other topics that are discussed in this book such as toxic masculinity, gang violence, representation in popular culture, and mass incrimination, but I don’t want this to be a 10-page review. I will just say if you read this book, you will fall in love with Marvin, the brilliant writing and I will guarantee that this book will stick with you. I also recommend the audiobook because there are some extras that you might enjoy!


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Friday Reads: 8/31/2018| A Bi-Filled Weekend

Happy Friday! Here are all the (bi) books I’m currently making my way through!

Continue reading “Friday Reads: 8/31/2018| A Bi-Filled Weekend”

An Updated Rating System

I thought I would share my thought process when it comes rating my read books!

My rating system is kind of weird because I use half stars but not all the time. The only half stars I use are 3.5 and 2.5 (you will see why I sometimes use half stars).

Honestly, most of the books I read fall between 2 and 4 stars. It’s

TheBlackLit.pngThis book would have to emotionally impact me, have stellar representation, fantastic writing, vivid characters, almost flawless. Favorites. The rarest gems of them all. I don’t give these out regularly.

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This book impacts me but not as much as a 5-star book. Great representation, pretty good writing, most of the characters are well-written. There were one or two aspects I disliked but overall recommend the book. These are the books I love but don’t consider them as favorites.

3.5 Stars

This book didn’t impact me but was still an enjoyable read. Great representation, pretty good writing, most of the characters are well-written. There were one or two aspects that I disliked but overall recommend. A solid read.

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3 Stars: This book did not impact me but still an enjoyable read. Okay, representation but there might have been some problematic moments. The writing was nothing special. I disliked 2+ characters but overall an excellent cast. There were many aspects I feel that can be altered or taken out. I hesitantly recommend the book.

2.5 Stars

This book did not impact me and didn’t enjoy reading it that much. The representation was okay but could have been much better. The writing was nothing special. Disliked multiple characters. The story was not compelling. This is the “was not for me” category.

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This book did not impact me and did not enjoy reading it. The representation was not good. The writing was bad. The characters were 2D. The story was not compelling. This is the ‘”I don’t like this book, but I’ve read worse” category

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1 Star: This book impacts me in a NEGATIVE way and absolutely did not enjoy reading it. I most likely DNF (yes I rate DNF books, come at me) or I hate read the book. The representation was awful, and the characters were either 2D or unlikeable. The writing doesn’t matter much in this category since I’ve rated well-written books 1 star. I despised the book with a burning passion. My second rarest rating. 

 

How do you rate your books? Do you use a star system, number system, letter system? 

 

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TBR Book Tag|Tag Tuesday

Another Tuesday, another Tag. This week, I thought I discuss some of the books I have not read!

This tag was created by aperfectioncalledbooks.

Like usual, I wasn’t tagged because why do the tags you were tagged in when you can do the untagged tags (Say that 5x fast!).

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How Do You Keep Up with Your TBR Pile

I feel like this is the answer for everybody, but I use Goodreads! I know a lot of people don’t like the website (despite all book reviewers/lovers uses it), but I use the website at least twice a day! I love seeing what people are reading, what their thoughts are and I, of course, use it for tracking all the books I’m interested in reading!

Is your TBR mostly print or ebook?

Definitely eBook. All my books are 80% library aka overdrive, so I read a lot of ebooks and listen to a lot of audiobooks. My digital TBR is infinite!

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

I’m a mood reader, but I  sometimes do themed months. February is usually exclusively books by black authors/ have black characters, and June is my Pride books. I also plan on making September mostly books with bi characters in celebration of bi visibility.

A book that’s been on your TBR list the longest?

AmericanahAmericanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. Oh Gosh, I’ve wanted to read this book forever! I don’t know why I’m so intimated by this book since I’ve read 3 other works by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. I just need to sit down one day and read the damn book!

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart (Mechanical Hearts, #1)A book you recently added to your TBR?

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J.C Lillis. I feel like I mostly read f/f relationship based books, so I’m trying to dive more into the m/m books! If you have any recommendations, let me know!

A book in your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?

There isn’t a book I can say I bought strictly because of the cover. I don’t really cover buy. I do have books on my TBR that has beautiful covers, but I’m also excited by the story before buying the book.

A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?

What’s the point of having a book on your TBR that you don’t plan on reading? Doesn’t that beat the purpose?

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in AmericaBlack Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America by so many black authors!

So MANY of my faves in one Anthology! The title hits so close to home it’s not even funny. I can’t wait till January!

A book on your TBR that basically everyone’s read but you?

Any book my V.E Schwab. I started A Darker Shade of Magic, I met the author, I got the book signed, and it’s still unread. I need to read AND finish the book! I also want to read her other books! I am down to go on the hype train, and I just need to buy the ticket already.

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?

Radio SilenceNo one ever recommends me books! Well, if I had to pick a book that everyone loves and pushes, I might have to say Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. I liked her newest book, Born for This but I heard this was her best one!

A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read?

Any book by Ashley Herring Blake! Like, how have I not read ANY of her books!?!

How many books are on your TBR shelf?

Physically? 20-30 books. Digitally? Infinite.

TAG UR IT

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Once Again, don’t feel obligated to do the tag!  If you do, make sure to link it to this post so that I can see your answers.

Also, please check out these blogs!

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Spilling the Tea: DNF MINI REVIEWS|The Wedding Date and Truth and Lies

Welp, It’s unfortunate that I DNF books, but I refuse to finish books I’m not enjoying. I’m not going to include the star rating because, well, I didn’t complete so they are one-star reads. I know people have STRONG opinions about DNF reviews so if you’re not a fan I suggest you stop reading because I’m about to spill some tea (not a lot though… I’m nice!).

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The Wedding DateGoodreads Summary: Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist. On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend… After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she’s the mayor’s chief of staff. Too bad they can’t stop thinking about the other…  They’re just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century–or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want…

The Review: While the beginning had a lot of promise. The middle is what hindered my overall reading experience. Nothing was wrong with the story, but it was just a complete snooze-fest! I think the romance developed WAY to quickly and perhaps if the author made the relationship more slow burn, I would have stayed interested.  The whole plot occurred less than half in the book but then after it was a whole lot of romance cliches and miscommunication. They were each other’s date  I love reading about interracial relationships, and I appreciated some of the discussions, but unfortunately, it didn’t leave me engrossed in the story.  This story is forgettable (I didn’t use any character names because I forgot them all), I’m disappointed… NEXT.Copy of TheBlackLit (1)

Truth and Lies (DI Amy Winter, #1)Goodreads Summary: DI Amy Winter is hoping to follow in the footsteps of her highly respected police officer father. But when a letter arrives from the prison cell of Lillian Grimes, one half of a notorious husband-and-wife serial-killer team, it contains a revelation that will tear her life apart. Responsible for a string of heinous killings decades ago, Lillian is pure evil. A psychopathic murderer. And Amy’s biological mother. Now, she is ready to reveal the location of three of her victims—but only if Amy plays along with her twisted game. While her fellow detectives frantically search for a young girl taken from her mother’s doorstep, Amy must confront her own dark past. Haunted by blurred memories of a sister who sacrificed herself to save her, Amy faces a race against time to uncover the missing bodies. But what if, from behind bars, Grimes has been pulling the strings even tighter than Amy thought? And can she overcome her demons to prevent another murder?

The Review: I was excited to read a book that features a main character that has parents who are notorious serial killers. This also gave me a criminal minds vibe since the show had a similar subplot. reading about 30% (100+ pages), I was disappointed. NOTHING was happening. Yes, we see the relationship between our main character Amy and her villainous mother, but I don’t care?!? I feel disconnected from the story, and it’s become a burden for me to pick up again. There’s also a sort of side plot that I’m sure is going to intertwine the parent plot, but I honestly don’t care to know how.
          Amy is also a 2D character. The story is set up in a series of flashbacks, and I assume the author did this so that we would care about Amy and her past. I’m not a fan of this type of storytelling because it seems like the book is trying way too hard. There’s also a series of side characters that for some reason, they all have the same voice (aside from Amy’s biological mother) so it’s difficult for me to keep up with the flow of the story.  The only redeeming quality (apparently not enough for me to keep going) is Amy’s mother (already forgot her name). She is a compelling flawed and unlikable character, and her story arc is fascinating. I have an idea where her story is going to go, so I’m not that compelled to finish the story just for her sake.  I can see why others may enjoy this because of the police and problem-solving aspect but this probably just wasn’t for me. I want to give this author a try in the future because she has some compelling stories. Also, this is lowkey the chosen one trope and nope I’m good.

Did you read any of these books? Let me know!

 

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Friday Reads 8/24/2018|Evelyn Hugo and Tyler Johnson

Happy Friday! Here are all the books I’m currently making my way through! Spoiler Alert: These will most likely be 4+star reads!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Goodreads Summary: Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career. Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Thoughts so Far: [11%] I am LOVING this book so far! Evelyn has such a raw, alluring voice and I love her no regrets attitude. I’m taking this book slow because I already don’t want it to end!

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Tyler Johnson Was HereTyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Goodreads Summary: When Marvin Johnson’s twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid. The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it’s up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean.

Thoughts so far: [34%] The pacing seems off in this book but I’m still overall enjoying the story! Marvin is such a sweet and empathetic character, and you can tell he really loves family. I’m planning on making a post that features books that deals with police brutality and the black lives matter movement and this will definitely make the list! Also, THE COVER IS GORGEOUS!

 

 What are you reading this weekend?

 

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