Book Review: The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The House On Mango Street CoverBook: The House Of Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Published April 1991 (originally published 1984) by Vintage|110 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Fiction

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Told in a series of vignettes stunning for their eloquence, The House on Mango Street is Sandra Cisneros’s greatly admired novel of a young girl growing up in the Latino section of Chicago. Acclaimed by critics, beloved by children, their parents and grandparents, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, it has entered the canon of coming-of-age classics.

Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous, The House on Mango Street tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, whose neighborhood is one of harsh realities and harsh beauty. Esperanza doesn’t want to belong–not to her rundown neighborhood, and not to the low expectations the world has for her. Esperanza’s story is that of a young girl coming into her power, and inventing for herself what she will become. 

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Like Things Fall Apart, The House On Mango Street was a book I had to read in high school, and even though I sort of remembered the story, there was a lot I had forgotten since then.  I don’t remember how I felt about it when I read it in high school- I’m pretty sure it wasn’t one of the few books I had to read and ended up liking, but as an adult, I really liked it.

I really liked how we get these snapshots of Esperanza’s life over the course of a year.  You get such a good glimpse of what her neighborhood is like, and the expectations that the world has for her.  You see how she wants to break out of that, and how she wants more for herself, even though the people around her might not expect it, or even encourage it.  There were a couple points- some unwelcome kisses and when one of her neighbors gets married- where there could be more to it, but you could also just take it as it was written.

It definitely broke my heart at times, but there were also times where I really felt for Esperanza, and I finished the book feeling confident that things would work out in her favor.  It reminded me of my own childhood, and how different things are now for kids.  There is something timeless about this book, and even though it was published just over 30 years ago, it holds up really well.  It’s still relevant, and totally worth reading, if you haven’t read it.  It’s even worth re-reading as an adult, and I’m actually glad I happened to see it at the library.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I didn’t quite love it, just because I wanted to live in Esperanza’s world for a little bit longer, but overall, I’m really glad I picked it up and read it.

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Book Review: Some Like It Wicked by Teresa Medeiros

Some Like It Wicked CoverBook: Some Like It Wicked by Teresa Medeiros

Published by July 2008 by Avon|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Kincaid Highland #1

Genre: Adult Romance/Historical Romance

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Some like it dangerous . . .

Highland beauty Catriona Kincaid cares nothing for propriety—or even her own safety—when she storms the grounds of Newgate Prison. Determined to return to Scotland and restore her clan’s honor, she seeks the help of Sir Simon Wescott, a disgraced nobleman and notorious rogue. She is prepared to offer him both wealth and freedom, but she never dreams the wicked rake will be bold enough to demand a far more sensual prize.

Some like it seductive . . .

Simon is shocked to discover the tomboy he met long ago has blossomed into a headstrong temptress. Although he’s sworn off his dreams of becoming a hero, he can’t resist playing knight errant to Catriona’s damsel in distress. Both adventure and peril await them at her Highland home, where they will risk their lives to vanquish her enemies . . . and risk their hearts to discover a passion beyond their wildest dreams.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Romance is one of those genres I always tell myself I’m going to read more of, and yet, it’s one of those genres I never seem to read a lot of.  Which is weird, because, for the most part, I’ve really liked a lot of the romances I’ve read. Sadly, this wasn’t the case for Some Like It Wicked, which turned out to be okay for me.

Catriona definitely is what I’d call strong.  She’s very determined to make sure the family name and the family land is okay, and she’s willing to do what she has to in order to get it back.  She was naive about some things (particularly in regards to Simon), but everything worked out in the end, and it wasn’t actually annoying.  In fact, it made sense for Catriona herself.  She wasn’t as wild and independent as I thought she’d be, but she did seem to be pretty independent by the end of the book.

And Simon…what can I say about Simon?  He definitely redeemed himself by the end of the book, and I actually liked Simon a lot more than I thought, especially where Cat was concerned.

But them together?  I liked them together, but only a little.  They certainly balance each other out, but I didn’t quite feel them as a couple.  They definitely had chemistry, and I wanted to love them together, but I just didn’t.

And it wasn’t as focused on romance as I thought it would be.  It was definitely there, but it felt like it was more about Catriona saving her family than anything else.  It ended super-happy- which is fine, and I pretty much expected that- but…I don’t know, I just wasn’t enthused with the super-happy ending.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

2 stars.  I don’t have much to say about Some Like It Wicked.  I get why people really like it/love it but it’s not one of my favorites.  I’d definitely give another one of her books a try, but not anytime soon.

Book Review: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart CoverBook: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Published October 2010 (but originally published in 1958) by Anchor|224 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: The African Trilogy #1

Genre: Adult Fiction

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Things Fall Apart tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first, a powerful fable of the immemorial conflict between the individual and society, traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world. The second, as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world with the arrival of aggressive European missionaries. These perfectly harmonized twin dramas are informed by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Things Fall Apart was a book I was required to read back in high school, and I randomly decided to pick it up and read it again.  Even though I didn’t love it, I liked it more than I thought I would- and I definitely liked it a lot more as an adult than I did as a high school student.

I really liked seeing Okonkwo’s fall from grace, and how it was so tied to the change of the world that he knew. What your family did was really important (especially to Okonkwo), and he worked really hard for the success he had.  He didn’t want to be like his father, and he didn’t want his father’s life for his children, which I think is something we can all relate to in some way.

The writing was really simple, but in a good way.  It was very straightforward, and I really liked that, because I felt like Achebe got right to the point.  You really see how much European missionaries changed things, and I couldn’t help but wonder how much we’ve lost because of colonization.

Part of why I didn’t love it was because it was depressing.  Which makes sense, given everything Okonkwo experienced and went through, and all of the change that happened.  Okonkwo does have a code that he lives by, and even though I understand why he acts the way he does…it doesn’t mean it’s okay, but I do get it.  At the same time, though, he really must have felt like he was out of options.  And when you think about it in the context of colonization, and how people must have felt, knowing they probably had to assimilate, or else…I really felt for them, because things were fine, until they weren’t.

I did like that you saw how some of the British who came took into account their traditions and customs, and how some didn’t.  You also saw that some of the people from Okonkwo’s village welcomed the missionaries, and how others didn’t.  It was very much shades of grey in this book, and I liked that it was fairly neutral.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars.  I’m not sure what else to say about Things Fall Apart.  I definitely recommend it, because I think it’s an important story.  And I definitely appreciate it a lot more as an adult than I ever did in high school.