Let’s Vote For August’s Book of the Month

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For the month of August, we are going to read a book from your TBR (To Be Read List)…MEMBER’S CHOICE.  As always there are some really great titles up for the vote this time.

Here are the Rules for Voting.

1. You may vote for three (3) books.

2. All members get to vote only once.

3. Last day to vote will be July 17, 2016. (11:00pm Los Angeles time)

4. The book with the most votes wins. But if there is a tie there will be a 48-hour death match. The two or three books will go into a head to head competition for only 48 hours. Whichever book is left standing (with the most votes) wins!

Below the poll, you will find the title of the books linked to a brief description. Now…may the best book win!

What Did You Think of… The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao?

What did you

Today we are going to talk about June’s book of the month, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.  But first, let’s check out this book and see what it is all about.

Synopsis

This is the long-awaited first novel from one of the most original and memorable writers working today.
Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd, a New Jersey romantic who dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the fukú — the ancient curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still dreaming of his first kiss, is only its most recent victim – until the fateful summer that he decides to be its last.
With dazzling energy and insight, Junot Díaz immerses us in the uproarious lives of our hero Oscar, his runaway sister Lola, and their ferocious beauty-queen mother Belicia, and in the epic journey from Santo Domingo to Washington Heights to New Jersey’s Bergenline and back again. Rendered with uncommon warmth and humor, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao presents an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and the endless human capacity to persevere – and to risk it all – in the name of love.
A true literary triumph, this novel confirms Junot Díaz as one of the best and most exciting writers of our time

Questions to think about and/or answer:

  • Throughout the novel, Spanish words and phrases appear unaccompanied by their English translations. What is the effect of this seamless blending of Spanish and English? How would the novel have been different if Díaz had stopped to provide English translations at every turn? Why does Díaz not italicize the Spanish words (the way foreign words are usually italicized in English-language text)?
  • The book centers on the story of Oscar and his family—and yet the majority of the book is narrated by Yunior, who is not part of the family, and only plays a relatively minor role in the events of the story. Yunior even calls himself “The Watcher,” underscoring his outsider status in the story. What is the effect of having a relative outsider tell the story of Oscar and his family, rather than having someone in the family tell it? And why do you think Díaz waits for so long at the beginning of the book to reveal who the narrator is?
  • Díaz, in the voice of the narrator, often employs footnotes to explain the history or context of a certain passage or sentence in the main text. Why do you think he chose to convey historical facts and anecdotes in footnote form? How would the novel have read differently if the content of the footnotes had been integrated into the main text? What if the footnotes (and the information in them) had been eliminated altogether?
  • While Oscar’s story is central to the novel, the book is not told in his voice, and there are many chapters in which Oscar does not figure at all, and others in which he only plays a fairly minor role. Who do you consider the true protagonist of the novel? Oscar? Yunior? Belicia? The entire de Leon and Cabral family? The fukú?
  • Oscar is very far from the traditional model of a “hero.” Other characters in the book are more traditionally heroic, making bold decisions on behalf of others to protect them—for instance, La Inca rescuing young Belicia, or Abelard trying to protect his daughters. In the end, do you think Oscar is heroic or foolish? And are those other characters—La Inca, Abelard—more or less heroic than Oscar?
  • During the course of the book, many of the characters try to teach Oscar many things—especially Yunior, who tries to teach him how to lose weight, how to attract women, how to behave in social situations. Do any characters not try to teach Oscar anything, and just accept him as who he is? How much does Oscar actually learn from anyone? And in the end, what does Oscar teach Yunior, and the other characters if anything?  (Questions from Penguin)

Reviews

“Funny, street-smart and keenly observed…An extraordinarily vibrant book that’s fueled by adrenaline-powered prose…A book that decisively establishes [Díaz] as one of contemporary fiction’s most distinctive and irresistible new voices.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Terrific…Narrated in high-energy Spanglish, the book is packed with wide-ranging cultural references—to Dune, Julia Alvarez, The Sound of Music—as well as erudite and hilarious footnotes on Caribbean history. It is a joy to read, and every bit as exhilarating to reread.” —Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly

Mocha Girls Speak

1926223Mocha Girl Racquel

Ahhh! This was a story! A REAL story! At the very base this book is about how the main character, Oscar, does not get laid, and his untimely death. But everything that’s in between is so so wonderful! Not wonderful in that great things happen- actually, very bad things happen- but wonderful in the storytelling of it all. Junot Diaz is a storyteller. He weaves a tale so robust and real and funny and gritty and every other thing that a good story could be. And what I like most about this author is that he talks to you in the story. He tells you that he knows what you, the reader, want to happen, but he is not going to let you have it. And you end up loving it anyway!

11719506Mocha Girl Ashley

This book seemed to lack a complete train of thought due to it trying to cram more than one theme between it’s pages.
The author seemed to have the attention span of a gnat and the idea that everyone who reads his work speaks fluent Spanish. We do not. I did not enjoy this book and only finished it because it was suggested by a reading group and I hate not finishing books. But I did not enjoy it. It was all over the place and lacked direction. In an effort to seem epic, this novel only disappoints and leaves the reader wondering what just happened.

Mocha Girl Ronetta

Book Details

         

What Did You Think of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao?

Nominations for August’s Book of the Month are Open: Member’s Choice

187845402Mocha Girls Read members it’s that time to pick a new book for the month of August.  The theme for August’s book nominations will be…Member’s Choice. (Any book, any genre, anything you want.)

Note: If you are nominating a book in a series then only book 1 is allowed. And all nominations should be published in e-book and physical form.

Nominations are from 7/4/16 – 7/10/16

For selecting our book of the month Mocha Girls Read uses a democratic system for monthly selections. What do I need to do? In the comments section below, tell us what you want to read next (author and title).  How many books can I nominate? Just pick 1 title off your TBR (to be read) list. Then what? We will put the list of nominations up for everyone to vote on.  Once the voting is over, the winner will be selected as the book of the month. What if there is a tie? We will put the two books to a head to head competition. The two books will be re-posted and everyone will be able to vote again but only in a 48 hour window of time. When do the nominations start and end? The nominations start today and will close on July 10, 2016 at 11:00pm. Voting will start the next day.

Let us know what you want to read next in the comment section below.

If you need some suggestions check out the titles below.  Click the book covers to read a synopsis and the reviews of the books.

Who Fears Death Beauty Queens Libba Bray51NIWVhas5L12553342W4E-book-cover9969571

“Just Couldn’t Put It Down” Giveaway Hop

Just-Couldn%27t-Put-It-Down-JulyHosted by Stuck In Books

Our giveaway host has provided us with another great theme for our monthly giveaway.  From today to the next 14 days you will be able to enter a giveaway to win another great book.  The theme for the giveaway hop is Just Couldn’t Put I t Down July, so I thought you might be interested in hearing from a few Mocha Girls on books they loved and just had a hard time putting down.

Mocha Girl Alysia

Alysia Night Circus“My all-time Just Couldn’t Put It Down book would have to be The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  It’s so hard to pick one but that one sticks out the most because the imagery was so clear and clever.  I just loved that book because I’m totally into unique stories.” 

Mocha Girl Page

Page Ready PlayerReady Player One is a gem.  Ernest Cline creates such an exciting, unique world with so many video games and pop culture references that filled this trivia nerd with glee.  It’s fast paced, has great character development and as if it needed any more selling points, Wil Wheaton reads the audiobook.”

Mocha Girl Classy

classy year of yes“The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes made me re-evaluate myself and the relationships in my life.  I have unashamedly begun to say “YES” to things that bring me life.”

Mocha Girl Nia

nia gone girl“In Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, I waffled whether this character killed his wife or not.  And when the reveal happened I was blown away, I could not put this book down.”

So now that you have heard from 4 Mocha Girls about books they just couldn’t put down, what about you?  Tell us in the comment’s section below about a book you just could put down. And don’t forget to enter the rafflecopter.  Oh wait!  You might want to know what you are winning.

~The Prize~

1 paperback from the books listed above or in the comment section below.  That’s right the more books mentioned below the more you get to pick from.

~The Rules~

  • Must be US resident
  • Must be 16 years old or older
  • Giveaway ends7/14/26
  • Must enter via rafflecopter and comments below.

Don’t forget to hop to the other blogs listed below to win other great prizes.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Click here to enter another great giveaway…

What Did You Think of… Just Above My Head?

What did you

Today we are going to talk about May’s book of the month, Just Above My Head by James Baldwin.  But first, let’s check out this book and see what it is all about.

Synopsis

The stark grief of a brother mourning a brother opens this novel with a stunning, unforgettable experience.  Here, in a monumental saga of love and rage, Baldwin goes back to Harlem, to the church of his groundbreaking novel Go Tell It on the Mountain, to the homosexual passion of Giovanni’s Room, and to the political fire that enflames his nonfiction work.  Here, too, the story of gospel singer Arthur Hall and his family becomes both a journey into another country of the soul and senses–and a living contemporary history of black struggle in this land.

Questions to think about and/or answer:

1 – What about this story rings true to society today?

2 – What did you think of the entire novel?

3 – Why was Julia’s relationship with her mother stranded?  And with her brother?

4 – What do you think happened to Peanut?

Reviews

“The work of a born storyteller at the height of his powers…  glimpses of family life in Harlem, rapturous music-making in the churches, moments of uneasiness in even the most casual meetings between whites and blacks–scenes that Baldwin seems preternaturally gifted in understanding.”  –The New York Times Book Review

“A fine novel…it seems impossible for [Baldwin] to write with anything other than eloquence.  His great and peculiar power is to re-create the maddening halfway house that the black man finds himself in late-twentieth-century America.”  The New Yorker

Mocha Girls Speak

1035876Mocha Girl Medina

Dear Lawd Jesus!!!!! DamndamndamnJAMES!
It was a song, a poem, an enterprise of faith. I am too attached to this book, the mechanics of Baldwin’s writing, and its content to be very objective in reviewing it.
Suffice it to say, if you have no knowledge of traditional gospel music, you will miss the grace of this text. As a music head & a girl grow’d up in the Chu’ch, this hit home….but beyond that…aaahhh!
I cannot, it is too close to me.
This is one of my favorite books ever and will probably be my favorite Baldwin work. I will be re-reading it immediately, like, starting tomorrow. It. Is. Incredible.

4482714Mocha Girl Meilani

My absolute favorite of Baldwin, or anyone, ever. I haven’t been as moved by literature since the time I read this novel. So painfully incredible and joyous to be lost in these words.

50118967Mocha Girl Jessica

This is my first James Baldwin read, however, I will need to read some of his books before this one. One of the initial books that he became famous for, because from reading this novel I can see that he is a very artistic writer. I just cannot see giving the story more than 3 stars. I like that he developed most of the characters very well and brought me into their world, however, I felt I was brought in quite a bit, but was left hanging at points. I did not like that Hall was the narrator telling the story for others, very intimate details and this made it unrealistic.

Product Details

     

What did you think of Just Above My Head by James Baldwin?