Sunday, February 26, 2017

Assata: An Autobiography Review

On May 2, 1973, Black Panther Assata Shakur (aka JoAnne Chesimard) lay in a hospital, close to death, handcuffed to her bed, while local, state, and federal police attempted to question her about the shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike that had claimed the life of a white state trooper. Long a target of J. Edgar Hoover's campaign to defame, infiltrate, and criminalize Black nationalist organizations and their leaders, Shakur was incarcerated for four years prior to her conviction on flimsy evidence in 1977 as an accomplice to murder.
This intensely personal and political autobiography belies the fearsome image of JoAnne Chesimard long projected by the media and the state. With wit and candor, Assata Shakur recounts the experiences that led her to a life of activism and portrays the strengths, weaknesses, and eventual demise of Black and White revolutionary groups at the hand of government officials. The result is a signal contribution to the literature about growing up Black in America that has already taken its place alongside The Autobiography of Malcolm X and the works of Maya Angelou.
(Summary from goodreads).

Hello, all! I am so pleased to be reviewing Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur for my first book review on Bookish Fangirl. This is the last book I've read for 2017's Black History Month, and what a way to finish up!

I'm ashamed to say that before I read this book, I had never heard of Assata Shakur. I originally picked it up because I saw that one copy had a forward by Angela Davis, who I adore. I've also been trying to educate myself more about revolutionaries and the struggle towards racial equality. So, I thought this would be a perfect way to further my understanding.

The chapters alternate between Assata's childhood and young adulthood, and the trials she faces after she is accused of kidnapping, bank robbing, and murder. Every section was better and more moving than the last. I can honestly say that this is one of the few autobiographies I've read in which every section is necessary - at no point does she resort to unneeded naval-gazing, but rather, she wonderfully describes how she became a revolutionary. Some of the most interesting chapters for me were about the Black Panthers. She is unafraid to both praise and criticise the organisation, and I really felt like I got a much better understanding of what the Panthers did, and what their ideals were.

Each chapter ends with one of Assata's poems. They are deceptively simple - I would definitely recommend checking them out. They are true testimonies to her courage and revolutionary spirit, and were a highlight of the book for me.

Finally, because of the subject matter, there are a whole number of trigger warnings, including attempted sexual assault, attempted murder, physical and psychological torture, and the use of racial slurs. Assata does not censor herself in the slightest - and I personally commend her for that. 

If this sounds interesting to you I would also recommend Ta-Nehisi Coates' book The Beautiful Struggle.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Blogger Introduction: whatthelog

Hello lovely readers! My name is whatthelog (also known as Wendy) and I am extremely excited to tell you that I have been invited by Tanya to be a co-blogger on Bookish Fangirl.

*insert obligatory Twin Peaks fangirling here*

A couple of things about me: I often talk about books (obviously), diversity (particularly mental health and bisexuality), and intersectional feminism. I am currently finishing up my BA in English Literature, and I hope to go on to do an MA in Publishing. The end goal is to get into the industry, help authors publish their fabulous diverse books, and generally make the world a better place. No sweat.

I am currently reading Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur, 10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac, and various university texts. My favourite reads so far this year have been The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla, Butterfly Fish by Irenosen Okojie, and Noteworthy by Riley Redgate. I am committed to reading #ownvoice books, and helping readers choose what to pick up next!

My blog can be found here, and my Twitter here! I am really excited to contribute to Bookish Fangirl, and I hope that you enjoy my posts.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hello World by Tiffany Rose and Alexandra Tauber

About Hello World:

Scott’s skills as a surveillance expert come in pretty handy when he’s breaking down firewalls. But
hacktivism isn’t enough; he’s going after the holy grail—UltSyn’s Human Information Drives, human assets implanted with cerebral microchips. While plenty of hackers are trying to save the world these days, all Scott wants is to find his sister.

After following the clues to London, he makes a plan to kidnap the technical marvel heading into town. When this Human Information Drive turns out to be someone unexpected his nerve waivers. The HID, who calls herself Sonia, would be priceless on the market, but born out of joint self-preservation the two team up.

With her contacts, they travel across Europe in the search of personal secrets and leave a trail of industrial espionage all for the sake of misdirection. As the unlikely pair digs deeper into restricted databases, Scott discovers that those who enlist with UltSyn get far more than they bargained for. Not only is this secret HID program is much bigger than he had imagined, students are lining up for a future they only think this biotech wonder company can provide. Even worse, these leads are getting him nowhere closer to his own goals.

Plunged into a world of human trafficking, Scott is determined to find his sister no matter the cost, which tests Sonia's fragile friendship with him. But when the information reveals the people closest to Scott have been working for UltSyn all along, he has to find them—before UltSyn finds him.

How Co-Authors Exist by Alexandra Tauber

With the debut of my novel, a lot of people ask me “how do you work on a book with someone else?” whenever I mention I have a co-author. And while I’ll admit it’s not always easy, it’s pretty simple.

To preface, Tiffany and I met on a role playing website when we both wanted to write about an original story about assassins. This happened 7 years ago.

One of the things about writing a book, if you’re putting yourself into it, you’re exposing a lot about yourself within it. I have to say my co-author knows more about me than most of my closest friends. And that vulnerability makes a strong relationship between the two of you and your story.

On the technical side of things, we used Google Docs to write together in real time, and Skype while we wrote out the outline of your novel. We spend a lot of time herding the plot bunnies and sharing the sadness or excitement of each chapter.

A big thing is trust, and knowing you both want the same things. There’s always compromise, arguments, and fear. But just like any relationship, one as co-authors needs communication.

One of the most rewarding things is sharing the experience and the same creative mind with another person. I think this is something Tiffany and I are so lucky to have. We love each other’s ideas and run with them and getting that response is always great.

I’m not sure co-authoring is possible for everyone, but if you find the person you sync well with intellectually and creatively, it’s never going to be difficult.

And you’ll always have someone to complete your thoughts whenever you struggle to find the words.

Author Bios:

Tiffany Rose is still waiting for her Starfleet uniform to arrive, but isn't so picky about color. Until then she spends her time writing about magical girls, the morally grey, and articles that would warrant the title of cyberpunk beatnik since the themes are unabashedly focused on queer theory in the information age. Any extra time would ideally be spent looking out for plot bunnies and serendipity, but in reality, likely used on refreshing twitter.

For more check out her twitter, goodreads, or her book blog Art Over Chaos!

Alexandra Tauber spends much of her time cuddling her cat and putting off any adult responsibilities. Love of science fiction, comic books, and video games fed into her creativity since her youth and drove her to take part in many online roleplaying communities, and formed her aspirations to write novels. Her point of focus is inclusive writing that honors the struggles of more than the carbon copy white knight figure.

For more check out her twitter, or facebook!