#Review 5* Dear Martin by @getnicced Nic Stone #YA @randomhousekids @CrownPublishing #NewRelease

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Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Synopsis:
Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League–but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.
Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up–way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack

My Review:

Nic Stone may write fiction, but she certainly tells no lies! This is a powerful debut novel! The author holds nothing back and the novel offers you the opportunity to see life, through the lies of another, and that person is protagonist Justyce Mcallister!

As a white British woman of 34 years old. It is difficult to imagine the daily life and struggles of a 17-year-old African American teen. When you factor in the racial tensions, constantly bubbling in America and the case after case of police brutality. It becomes quite clear that Justyce and I lead very different lives.
But that is the hidden beauty of this novel, it enables the reader to walk in Justyce’s shoes.
Even if it is for just 200 pages.

The novel opens with Justyce and his ex-girlfriend Melo Taylor, as Justyce attempts to prevent her from drink driving. Melo is of mixed race heritage, but due to her mother’s Norwegian pale skin tone, can easily pass as white. When an officer of the law arrives at the scene, he is promptly judge, jury and executer of his own brand of justice.
Justyce finds himself cuffed, manhandled and treated with zero respect and dignity. But it is only when I read his thoughts as the scene unfounded, that I fully understood life from Justyce’s perspective……………….

Be respectful; keep the anger in check; make sure the police can see your hands.

Justyce is eventually cleared of all wrong-doing, but with no apology, the experience has planted a seed of how Justyce’s feel he is perceived in the world. Do people see a thug when they see him? Does his skin colour automatically, make him a likely criminal? Is he expected to be one of the many cases of young black men shot dead unlawfully?

The self-questioning and doubt lead Justyce to begin a diary to Dr Martin Luther King. It is in these letters entitled ‘Dear Martin’ that Justyce pours out his heart and soul!
The letters are incredibly moving and the writing profound. Justyce is an intelligent young man, but he also has an emotional maturity, that we see develop throughout the novel.

“Dear Martin, there are people that don’t see a man with rights when they look at me”

Justyce begins to explore other people’s attitudes and approaches to debates of race/culture. This includes class mates, teachers, best friend Manny and debate partner SJ (Sarah Jane).
SJ is quite an interesting character herself, a young white Jewish girl. Who is wise beyond her years! SJ has opinions on race/identity/privilege, that could put world leaders to shame!

There is a wide mixture of teens from all walks of life, included within the novel. Which is what makes the novel so great! Nic Stone hasn’t just considered one voice; she has written a magnitude of voices to be heard.
At times the novel made for uncomfortable reading. But so it should, racism is uncomfortable for everybody it makes a victim of. This novel could be an extremely useful tool within educational settings. To allow young adults to debate the themes within the novel and maybe learn a little of their own inner hidden prejudices!

“People often learn more from getting an undeserved free pass than they would from being punished”

I don’t want to review the novel too much and risk ruining this thought-provoking novel. At just 200 pages it is an easy read for young adults. I think the topic of BAME youth in education settings is at crisis point and this novel can shine a light on the how/why this situation developed in the first place.

“If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?”

I cannot speak on the race issue, from personal experience. But as a mother of two sons and as a fellow human. I am horrified at seeing young men either growing up way too soon, or being the victims of police brutality and even murder!
A compelling read by a very talented writer, who has a bright future ahead of her! 5*

ns
Nic Stone
Author Bio:
Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work.
You can find her goofing off and/or fangirling over her husband and sons on most social media platforms as @getnicced.

Authors links:
Website: http://www.nicstone.info/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/getnicced

My Reviews of Author Qasim Rashid’s Non-fiction books. The Wrong Kind Of Muslim and Talk To Me.

Qasim Rashid is an author of three non-fiction books which detail key issues in todays society. Whether UK, USA or Europe. These issues of race, religion and persecution are visible in our daily lives. One day I grew sick and tired of my only option being to blindly follow what the media or peoples opinions told me! I wanted to learn about Islam and the religious persecution Muslims face in not only the west but within Muslim countries.

I decided what better to do than ask a Muslim, except I live on a tiny channel island with few Muslims and unfortunately no local Mosque. So I looked to books (as always!), I think I actually googled “talk to a Muslim” up popped Qasim Rashid. This is now quite sometime ago. However with my new-ish blog I wanted to feature all the authors who made it to my favourite books of 2016 list. I signed up to Qasim’s Facebook & Twitter feed and he regularly keeps people up to date on events, news, changing polices relevant to the message of his books. Qasim is often a spokesperson for his community on American news channels. Through engaging in conversations on social media on Qasim’s page I now have a new wealth of new friends from Ghana to Pakistan to Germany to Indonesia and not forgetting Muhammed from London!

Qasim is a fascinating man himself, he is an American Lawyer working for an organisation that specialises in women’s rights. He has proven time and time again that he is intelligent, honest and fair. But don’t take my word for it, read his books and follow his pages! *Qasim has agreed to a Q&A on my blog, however his work schedule is crazy busy! So as soon as he gets chance, I will post 🙂

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The Wrong Kind Of Muslim: An Untold Story Of Persecution & Perseverance by Qasim Rashid 5* Genius

The Synopsis:

The Wrong Kind of Muslim is a call to unite those of all faiths and of no faith in the struggle for universal freedom of conscience. Since 9/11, terrorists in Pakistan have killed over 40,000—and counting. Often risking his own life, Qasim Rashid journeys into the heart of that terrorism to unearth the untold story of those silenced by Taliban suicide bombings, secret police torture, and state sponsored religious persecution. Rashid exposes the horrifying truth about growing radicalism in Pakistan and its impact on Western security. But most importantly, Rashid uncovers the inspiring untold story of millions fighting back—and winning.

My Review:

“We try to win hearts” – This book WILL win your heart

I bought this book to gain some insight into the Muslim faith & educate myself on the issues that affect the different sects of Islam. We can no longer rely on the media for educational facts, as they pursue their own agendas, irrespectively of the damage this causes. So evidently books like this become a great source of insight. I am a non-Muslim, so my knowledge of Islam is pretty limited and prior to reading this book, my knowledge of the Ahmadi community was non-existent. This book is so much more than an insight into the Ahmadi faith, Qasim champions the rights of ALL faiths and is quite honest & frank about the failings in Pakistan and the oppression and danger this poses to its own society. The book is written intelligently and with reference to the facts that can easily be verified. Qasim has crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s, which is exclusively important in non-fiction & more so under the current unfortunate climate of islamophobia. I would recommend this book to anyone hoping to gain some knowledge, because I started like that and ended up swept away with the chapters. The book contains chapters that make for difficult reading but above all, the message of hope & freedom of expression flows off every page.

On chapter 19 Qasim quotes the Ahmadi leader Mirza Nasir Ahmad in saying “we try to win hearts”. Well with this book Qasim definitely won mine. I have made a promise to myself to share this book with as many people I can, to pass on the message and read more books like it. I have already purchased another of Qasim’s books and I anticipate that in the future, his name will be held with huge praise & admiration of a great Muslim who paved the way for peace. 5*
(written 16th April 2016)
The Wong Kind Of Muslim is currently only £2.39 on Kindle Ebook .

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Talk To Me: Changing The Narrative On Race, Religion and Education by Qasim Rashid 5*

The synopsis:

Talk To Me: Changing the Narrative on Race, Religion, & Education is a non-fiction memoir on how the power of dialogue can overcome racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and violence. It is the real life story of how ordinary Americans are rising above the forces that seek to drive us apart, and instead finding paths to peace and understanding. Talk To Me gives these powerful stories of struggle from race and faith minorities the platform they deserve, and demonstrates that our differences are not a source of discord and division—they’re a source of strength and recognition.

Step out of your comfort zone and take the time to Talk To Me.

My Review:

The message is one of simplicity “love for all, hatred for none”.

This is an educational book that I would like to see in school or educational settings. Qasim breaks down many barriers with his fantastic writing and deep understanding of race, religions and cultures. I have followed Qasim’s fb page for some time and have also read his other novel the wrong kind of Muslim. Qasim is a true spokesperson for humanity. This is not a book by a Muslim for Muslims. this is a book for people from all walks of life. Each chapter carry’s a different message, sometimes written by contributors. some are incredibly moving & heart breaking. In particular, a chapter near the end details the prejudice Qasim faced himself at a book fair. simply trying to get his message out, he is insulted & vilified but he responds in true Qasim ahmadi style with “love for all hatred for none” 5*
(written 31st July 2016)
*Talk To Me is available at just £2.07 on Kindle Ebook store.

Qasim Rashid’s Contact details:

Web: http://www.qasimrashid.com/

Twitter: @MuslimIQ

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/qasim.rashid.3

Book List inspired by Black History Month!

This is NOT a black history month book list; this IS a book list inspired by black history month. Let me explain, I read a huge amount of books that would fall into this category. But in my opinion black history is history and everyone should be reading & learning it all year not just in the month of February!
I saw a promo post yesterday with only 3 choices & I knew that if I wrote such a list, my list would be enormous and would feature female/male writers, fiction & non-fiction, old skool reads & new releases. Something for everybody. I mentioned this in passing to my husband who quickly pointed out ‘isn’t that what your blog is for’ so here goes!

To make this list the best it fully can be, I have scoured my book journals, tbr pile & wish list. I will identify this throughout the list. I can’t include reviews for all the ones I have read but will include my star rating & a brief summary. They are in no particular order.

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Fiction:

  • IQ by Joe Ide – 5* Genius – New release IQ is a new release, set in modern day LA. I described IQ as a ghetto Sherlock Holmes in my review, this novel is clever, edgy and unique!
  • Heartman by M.P Wright (JT Ellington series) – 5* Genius JT is a Bajan cop turned private eye, when he arrives in Bristol UK from Barbados. Set in the 1960’s the novel gives a full & well written description of the era & attitudes at that time. JT is one my favourite characters ever!
  • Noughts & crosses by Malorie Blackman – TBR pile I had this YA book recommendation from my little brother. It was his favourite book in his teens. It is due to be adapted to a TV series on the BBC.
  • An Untamed State by Roxane gay – 5* This tells the story of Mirieille Duval Jameson, her life in Haiti as daughter of one of the wealthiest families. It details her subsequent captivity & ordeal. But also draws on the backdrop of poverty, inequality, corrupt governments and growing anger. A dark, brutal read but extremely noteworthy.
  • Devils Peak by Deon Meyer – Wish list I added this to my wish list due to its location & themes. Set in south Africa this novel tells the story of returning freedom fighter Thobela Mpayipheli
  • Natchez Burning trilogy by Greg Iles – 5* Genius This trilogy is majorly intense. It also has reflective chapters jumping between modern times and the 1960’s. Set in the deep south of the USA, it explores the inner workings or the KKK and the effect they have on everyone they touch.
  • The calling by Neil Cross (John Luther series) – 5* This is the novel featuring John Luther from the much loved series with Idris Elba. Set in modern times with John Luther the protagonist cop, we all know & love.
  • Summertime by Vanessa Lafaye – 5* Set in the Florida keys in the 1930’s this novel covers the black soldiers who returned from WW1 and the trying times they face. When a white woman is found murdered, suspicions quickly fall to the veterans.
  • Small Great things by Jodi Picoult – 5* This was a heavily anticipated novel as the author is so well known. It centres around one woman’s struggle to clear her name and the bigotry she faces. The novel has a thought-provoking & clever twist.
  • The Wrath of Moses by John sturgeon – 4* Centred around cop Moses in the crime plagued Levee District. This is a heavily layered crime novel of exceptional depth. Aside from the usual dramas Moses is Moses’s biggest enemy.
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – 5* Genius One of my favourites of 2016. I can’t even begin to explain how significant this novel is. Set in the era of slavery, this novel focuses on the story of Cora & her escape via the underground railroad. Incredibly moving!
  • Colour Bar by Susan William –TBR pile Added due to my wish list due to its unique & inspiring love story. The true story of a 1947 multi-racial romance between an heir to Africa and a white British woman. Currently screening as a movie in the UK
  • The Speech by Andrew Smith – 5* Another of my favourites from 2016. Set in 1968 & covering Enoch Powell’s rivers of blood speech. This novel merges fact & fiction and is an educational & moving read. Essentially about racial politics in the UK but written in such a well detailed way!
  • Gloria by Kerry Young –TBR pile Set in 1938 Jamaica covering political change & social justice from a female perspective. This was an obvious choice for my wish list.
  • Lies We All Tell ourselves by Robin Talley – TBR pile Another YA pick, This one set in the backdrop of the civil rights era yet also features an LGBTQ theme. Unique pick.
  • You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood – 5* Genius – New Release This is a courtroom legal drama, where the reader becomes a jury member. The beauty of it is, it forces you to think like someone who may not live like you or look like you. Puts you solely in their perspective.
  • Easy Rawlins series by Walter Mosley – 5* Genius The series starts out with an old skool edge to it and Easy is by far one of thee most coolest book characters to date! The novels each have unique themes and I am still working my way through the series myself.
  • Black Girl Lost by Donald Goines – 5* If you ever want to fully understand the term ‘white privilege’ this is the novel for you! The story of two youngsters who never stood a chance due to circumstances outside of their control.
  • Axeman’s Jazz & Dead Man’s Blues by Ray Celestin – 5* Genius The series begins in New Orleans and is a fictionalised portrayal of the real Axeman killer. Heavy on detail and depth, this series is amazing!
  • Darktown by Thomas Mullens- 5* Genius Atlanta 1948 this novels covers the first ever black cops in the USA. Boggs & smith are the two main cops; they are written very well. Soon to be a major TV series in the USA.
  • The Book of Night Women by Marlon James – 5* Genius Written by Manbooker winner Marlon James, this is probably the most brutal & deep novel I have ever read about slavery. The dialogue is intense, yet it makes the reader slow down and appreciate & saviour every single word.
  • All Involved by Ryan Gattis – 5* Set in the 1990’s this novel covers crime/gang culture and the LA riots.
  • The Memory Of Love by Aminatta Forna – 5* I met my husband the day of his return from Sierra Leone with the UK military. So this novel instantly intrigued me. Set in the late 1990’s it tells the story of ordinary people living through great loss & hardships. Extraordinarily moving!
  • The Sellout by Paul Beatty – 5* Recent winner of the Manbooker Paul Beatty debates race & culture with an unusual approach. I get the distinct opinion Paul doe’s seek validation in the form or reviews & awards. But it definitely deserving! Hilarious & controversial!
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison – 4* No list would be complete without the mention of this novel. It is eerie, harrowing & fierce.
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin –TBR pile Published in 1852, this a well-known & famous anti-slavery novel. I must make some time for it soon!
  • Difficult Women by Roxane Gay – Wish list I am a difficult woman, so I feel I shall be gripped by this!

NON- Fiction books:

  • Roots by Alex Haley – 5* The incredible story of Kunta Kinte. One I am certain I will never forget. Should be studied in schools.
  • Africa by Richard Dowden – 5* A comprehensive look at the history of Africa the problems is faces and the huge cultural gifts it has to offer. Made me want to visit Africa asap.
  • The autobiographies of Nelson mandela 5*, Martin Luther King 5* & Malcolm X 5* genius. I do not read autobiographies usually but my dad wanted me to read Nelson Mandela’s and I ended up reading these 3 back to back! Inspiring stuff!
  • We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Phillip Gourevitch – 5* I wanted to educate myself on the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. It alarms be how this is kept from mainstream education.
  • The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B Tyson – 5* This is an in-depth look into the torture murder of Emmett Till and those who allowed it to happen. It also references modern day crimes against children such as Trayvon Martin.
  • Shake Hands With The Devil by Romeo Dallaite – TBR pile This non-fiction title covers the role of the British military & the UN during the Genocide of Rwanda.
  • Cut by HiboWardere – TBR pile Centred around FGM and the writers own experiences. The author has kindly agreed to feature in a Q&A when I read & review this book.
  • Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali – TBR pile Focused around the roles of women in Islam and the writers experiences as a Muslim.
  • They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery – Wish list The main theme is the foundations of the black lives matter movement. Also chapters focused on individual cases of police brutality and subsequent murder of back citizens in the USA.

I hope there is something that may interest you on my list. Also please feel free to contact/message/comment me with further recommendations!

Abby