Natives, a review

Natives by Akala is a book about racism in the UK that has been on my virtual tbr for a while now, so when Caitlyn from Mad Cheshire Rabbit gifted me a copy last Christmas I was excited to delve in.

This book, quite simply, looks at racism in a post-empire world, in a country where the ruling class utilise race as a weapon to manipulate the working class against people of colour, so that they don’t rise up against the rich. I.e.? Britain. My home country.

As a white woman who has lived in a number of places, but primarily northern England, I have had a very different experience of the UK than Akala who is Black (or more accurately mixed race with a white mother and Black father) and has primarily lived in London. As such for me it was super interesting to be exposed to more information about the daily realities of living whilst Black in our country.

Additionally, I spent so much of my time reading this simply researching things. Looking up people that I had never heard of before and looking for books that Akala mentioned. And you best believe I went through that glossary and added a million and one books to my tbr! The book also addressed topics that, in my whiteness, hadn’t occurred to me. And that is always something I deeply appreciate from non-fiction works tackling racism.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Research: 9, Uniqueness: 7, Readability: 8, Personal Impact: 8, Intrigue: 8, Informativeness: 9, and Enjoyment: 8, giving a score of 8.14 and a 4.5* rating.

This is a very welcome addition to my non-fiction shelves, if you couldn’t tell already! Have you read this one? Do you have any other non-fiction books to recommend to me? Let me know!

First Lines Friday #16

It’s time for another First Lines Friday! Hosted by Wandering Words!! Why do these keep scheduling on big dates?! Again! This one was scheduled in November just like the last one so leave me be hahaha!

What if, instead of judging a book by its cover or its author, we judged the book by its opening lines?

Here is how it works:

– Pick a book and open to the first page.

– Copy the first few lines without revealing which book it is.

– Reveal the book!

So… do these first lines entice you?

The genius of apartheid was convincing people who were the overwhelming majority to turn on each other. Apart hate, is what it was. You separate people into groups and make them hate one another so you can run them all.

Scroll down to reveal the book!

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Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

A short one this week, but an impactful one all the same! This was gifted to me by the wonderful Olivia from Olivia’s Catastrophe and I can’t wait to read it. I just know I’m going to zip through it and struggle to put it down! I want to get more into Trevor Noah’s comedy works as the little I’ve seen of him I’ve really enjoyed. I’m anticipating that humour coming through in this book too.

Real US History that hits close to home


I had went to go see the film adaptation of this with my boyfriend and we both found it amazing. Hard hitting, intense, but also funny, it was a great movie and one which taught me more about the struggles African Americans have gone through (which as a white Brit, I don’t have much knowledge about from education, and I’m slowly teaching myself). When we saw this book in a discount bookshop in the UK (The Works), my bf decided to grab it for me as a little gift and I read it not too long afterwards.

This is a memoir about the first black police officer in the CSPD and his infiltration of a local chapter of the KKK, his eventual “friendship” with David Duke, and the impact of his investigation throughout the state and also across the US.

Sadly, I preferred the film. I know, I know. I ended up giving the book 3 stars, and I did speed through it and find it really interesting, but there were too many flaws which could have been fixed with a proof-reader. There was one instance of precise repetition, almost word for word, and there were many other instances where Stallworth repeats information unnecessarily as he only mentioned it ~20 pages prior.

Personally, I was fine with the writing style, but I know that it won’t suit everyone’s taste. I thought it was personal, and given the style of the book, the best choice of portrayal. However, I did feel the detachment of years as Stallworth wrote this many years after the incidents took place.

Despite all this, however, I still urge you to pick up the book and see the film. The memoir gives so much depth and information about this major event in US history. Not just a black man infiltrating the KKK, but also the first black man in the CSPD. It is incredibly interesting. The film adds another layer to the knowledge, with Spielberg taking initiative in some aspects and adding in additional sectors which weren’t in the book but could easily have happened and were happening around the country in this time period. As well as some harrowing scenes at the end of the film.

Overall, this is an important book in my opinion. It keeps fresh in the public’s eye the atrocities which were committed in the name of the US, the racism prevalent throughout societies highest powers, and what can be done to show clowns the true extent of their ridiculous makeup.

The End of Chiraq, who is it for?

This is going to be a tough review for me to get into words. I got this book through NetGalley, and ended up both giving it 3* and also DNFing it (Did Not Finish). The 3 stars was for the content, personally this is not the type of writing style that I enjoy, although the content was informative, and I would not run to pick it up again. It’s the DNF factor that is tough in this review.

I DNFd the book because, I felt like I shouldn’t be reading it? The strongest feelings I had throughout the 50% of the book that I did read were of injustice, hatred (justifiably so) and that this book was not meant for me. And it’s not. This book, in my opinion, is written by black Chicagoans, and is intended for black Americans. Now I know that we should read books that aren’t aimed at us and expand our bases, however, this felt in essence like I was intruding. Like I was listening to something that I shouldn’t get to listen to.

I will say, I learnt a lot about “Chiraq” from what I read, and I can see the struggles that happen every day. The police in this city have some serious explaining to do, but let’s be real. That’ll never happen. This is a tough book, about a tough subject, about lives that are lived every day in an area where the police are more like the army than anything else. Racism abound towards black people, despite the majority of people in the neighbourhood being black, and essentially the rest of America stays silent.

I encourage you to pick up this book, even if you DNF it like I did. It’s something that needs to be highlighted as an issue, and these voices need to be heard. Black Lives Matter. Full stop. Maybe this book can help more people realise that.

Hidden Figures, exposing the amazing women who changed the world

This book is a tough read, or at least I found it to be. The language is technical, and it takes a surprisingly long time to actually reach the space race part of the book. I’ve heard that the movie starts straight there, so this is something to be aware of if you’ve watched the film before reading the book. I am looking forward to finally being able to get to the film as it looks really good.

You will really learn about the history of NASA and the women behind their success through reading this book. It is really sad that the contribution from white and black women has been pushed down in history, but this book starts to make up for some of that. It focuses mainly on the black computers (the name for the women working at NACA and NASA) and their fight for equality to the white women and also to the white men. I loved learning about the amazing women behind NACA and NASA in both the East and West sides and finding out about their contributions and how they were a driving force for many of the achievements of NASA.

I previously had no knowledge of NASA’s past, or that they even had “computers” or the racism which was present, as it was in the whole “western” world in this time period. Learning how they evolved from a department formed for aviation developments to help with WWII to launching astronauts into space was incredibly interesting and I wouldn’t say no to reading more about this topic area.

From what others have told me, this seems to be pretty different from the film that was based on the book. But if you are interested in learning more about the women behind many of the USA’s greatest achievements then definitely pick up this book and give it a go.