Freddy's Reviews

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis 

Written by: J.D. Vance 
Publisher: Harper, 2016
Pages: 272 

J.D. Vance is a Yale Law School graduate and former Marine. Immediately, coming out of Law School he had a six figure job. Vance seems to be living the American dream, complete with home-ownership, a beautiful wife and two dogs. Now would you believe me when I told you that he was a hillbilly from a small town in Middletown, Ohio where the youth are more likely to become pregnant than graduate from high school? 

Hillbilly Elegy:  A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis” by J.D. Vance is a beautiful memoir of J.D’s life and tells how he overcame numerous obstacles that could have according to statistics, kept him from attending an Ivy League school and living the idyllic life he is currently living. In Hillbilly Elegy Vance tells of how he overcame everything that was wrong with his life.

J.D. Vance and his older sister Lindsay were born in Middletown, Ohio to a mother who was in the process of becoming a nurse. His father had left the family while Vance was still a young boy. Nobody from J.D’s family ever attended college, none of them had ever left Middletown to find life elsewhere because the sad reality is that they never had the opportunity to do anything with their lives. They were essentially trapped from the start.

Middletown was once a thriving small town. This success came from the local factory which provided a stable income to the families of Middletown, Ohio. However, due to the fall of the factories it caused a severe economic downturn to the people of Middletown and they were unable to find work. This led to the decay of local businesses and the general well-being of everybody in town.

Throughout the book you learn the true hardships of J.D’s life and his family’s Appalachian ties. Vance’s family history is covered in poverty and his time as a child shows no improvement. The only people he can count on are his sister Lindsay, and his Mamaw & Papaw. His mother is a nurse but always financially struggles. After the death of her father and Vance’s papaw (grandfather) Vance’s mother becomes an emotional mess. She begins to seek shelter with an array of men. She moves her children from one house to another in hopes of finding stability, but then they just end up right back where they started.

This constant hardship deepened with the death of her father and causes Vance’s mother to lose herself to drugs.  Vance begins to struggle in school and begins to feel this helpless sinking feeling that he is stuck in Middletown for the rest of his life. It is Vance’s mamaw that instills in him the importance of education. She opens her home and heart to Lindsey and Vance and raises them as best she can, placing an importance on education. Yet, eventually mamaw also passes away and this spirals his mother into a deeper depression and severs the parental relationship between she and Vance for years to come.

J.D. not only tells his story in a sad but wonderful and detailed way. He also provides motivation and insight to those who may feel as if they may never amount to anything more in life because of their upbringings. J.D. let’s readers know through his writing and his story that while the journey may be long and a very difficult one at that, the rewards of following one's desires and dreams for a better life is possible and Vance is a complete example to this. Vance confirms that through hard work and education that one can advance in life.

I absolutely recommend this book to teens finishing high school & young adults in college who are looking for motivation in life and could hear J.D’s story to let them know anything is possible. Despite where you come from, the future can always be brighter if you don’t give up.

 I give Hillbilly Elegy a strong rating of five out of five you will not be disappointed in this book. 5/5

Happy Reading!

Review Written by Contributing Writer: Freddy Ramos
September 2017

“milk and honey” by rupi kaur

            Originally publishedNovember 4, 2014
      AuthorRupi Kaur
     Original languageEnglish


          milk and honey is a book of poetry that is written with inspiration from the author’s own life. kaur shares a little bit of her culture as she writes this book and it’s one of the most appealing elements of  the book. gurmukhi is a script in punjabi in which there is no other punctuation besides the period. there is no distinction between lowercase or uppercase. the absolute simplicity of how the text looks is just so pleasing to the eye which is why i’ve selected to write this review in this script.

            kaur writes of how she came to america, her early beginnings and what growing up as a punjabi woman was really like and the hardships she had to face. while she never goes into great detail and description of what hardships she went through, it is evident that transition was not easy at all. kaur’s poems are truly from her heart and are full of immense passionate emotion. the “pains” she describes are detailed in chapter title by emotional order: the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing. each chapter tells of a different pain kaur has felt through her life and how she labels these pains i believe is why people today relate so heavily with this book. the “pains” she writes of are what ordinary people suffer daily, yet, many do not know how to describe it and rupi does the job of describing what many have felt for years. rupi’s words speak for us all. 

            with her poems she hits the mark accurately; kaur gives voice to what teens and young adults want and need to hear. this universal voice kaur writes with is the reason a lot of young people relate to these poems and the stories told. kaur’s poetry resonates with the one's need  in the quest to find love, to give love and to be loved in return.  however, for those that have been hurt and feel that they are unable to address their true feelings and emotionally open and trust another for fear another may take advantage of them, kaur’s book opens a window to hope that was once closed. kaur reveals that we, you, they, us- are not alone and there are ways to overcome each struggle, each hurt, every pain that one may have experienced.

            i recommend this book to all poetry lovers and to the young adult ages 18+ because there is a lot of sensuality throughout the book.

i give milk and honey a rating of five out of five. 5/5

Written & Reviewed by Freddy Ramos 


“The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein

Author: Garth Stein
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 336
Format: paperback
Publication Date: 2009
ISBN: 0061537969

The Art of Racing in the Rain is a unique take on the bond of love and companionship between dog and man. We do not see life from the owner Dennis’s perspective in this story; we are instead viewing the events of this novel from Enzo the dog’s point of view.
            Dennis an aspiring race car driver is Enzo’s owner. Enzo loves Dennis, or “Denny” as he calls him as you would expect any dog to love their owner who treats them well, feeds and plays with him as if that were his own child. Enzo is not like most dogs however, he thinks about many things that dogs don’t spend a second thinking about. 
            Throughout the book we get a very well written and creative perspective from the author Stein and his idea of a man and dog relationship. Since the book is written from Enzo’s perspective, Enzo describes first hand all the struggles that Dennis must fight through to make in the world. It may seem odd to read a book from the perspective of a dog, but once the reader starts the first chapter it is easy to follow Enzo’s train of thought and the novel is completely believable. Enzo takes the reader through what life is like living with Dennis as he deals with the ups and downs of trying to make it as a professional race car driver. 
We see Dennis eventually marry, have a child and begin a new life as a family man. Throughout it all, Enzo takes the reader through the everyday struggles Dennis experiences. There were really nice moments in the book, for example when Enzo describes memories of Dennis coming home at the end of the day and venting to Enzo about how his day went. As usual owners that confide in their dogs as many do, will take comfort from this fictional account that dogs comfort us however unnoticed. 
            I highly recommend this book to young adults and especially all dog lovers. There are events and a lot of language throughout the story however that is not for children and for that reason this book is not for children or young teens. However, there is a children’s version of the book that I myself have not read but I’m sure is great for children as it is still written by Stein.
            I give The Art of Racing in the Rain a rating of five out of five stars and hope that once you read it dog lover or not (you are encouraged to go out an adopt a dog) you will look at your dog after reading this book with a different eye and with the thought that maybe they are just like Enzo and think just as he does.  5/5

Written & Reviewed by Freddy Ramos


“Diary of an Oxygen Thief” by Anonymous
   Reviewed by Freddy Ramos

Paperback, 143 pages
Published May 10th 2006 by NLVI Publishers: 
(first published January 1st 2006)
Original TitleDiary of an Oxygen Thief
ISBN 908105841X (ISBN13: 9789081058414)

Edition LanguageEnglish

Diary of an Oxygen Thief is a memoir that puts the reader in the shoes of the mystery man that is identified only as- Anonymous. Anon (Anonymous) tells his story of how he delights in routinely using women by manipulating them into falling in love with him and meticulously getting them to their most vulnerable emotional state. Then, he breaks their heart into a million pieces. He emotionally kills them. He describes leaving these women in such a state that they are unable to ever feel anything again, unable to love or receive love ever again.
He plays this love-game so well that these helpless women believe every word he says. He is the teacher in this game of love and they’re his students.  One day he meets a girl who has plans for him and the course of his games and life changes. Yet, with all his assumed knowledge in the game of love he could not see what was coming to him from a mile away. Throughout the book Anon shares with the reader his stories with some of these girls and how he hurt them without feeling any remorse. Through these revelations the reader gets to understand a little of how it actually feels to kill somebody from within without actually harming them physically. It is here that we learn of the girl who will come into his life and change everything for Anon. She becomes the antagonist in Anon’s story.
   Diary of an Oxygen Thief is non-fiction. Anon’s purpose in telling his story of how he skillfully hurt girls is according to him, so that one may get an in-depth look into understanding how one’s soul becomes broken. I highly recommend this book to teens ages 17+ because of the writers use of language, as well the mention of drugs and alcohol and the questionable actions in the writer’s life, this may not be a book I’d recommend for an age younger than 17.
I give Diary of an Oxygen Thief a rating of four out of five. 4/5

Written & Reviewed by Freddy Ramos


“Half A Life” by Darin Strauss

  • Paperback: 224 pages

  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (May 31, 2011)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 0812982533

  • ISBN-13: 978-0812982534

  • Half A Life by Strauss is a touching memoir. Strauss tells the tragic event of a car accident in which he was the driver and the person hit was eleventh grade and fellow classmate, Celine Zilkes. The event absolutely changed the entire direction of his life and high school senior year.

    The day of the accident Strauss was in his car with friends, they were on their way to play  a game of miniature golf when Celine was driving alongside him on her bicycle and she swerved from the side of the road straight in front of Darin’s car.  Strauss had absolutely no time to stop the car and he was going 40mph, yet still he could not prevent hitting her.

                Throughout the book we hear from Darin and learn of all the things he had to go through during his life. Darin shows how this one event shaped every aspect of who he was. Strauss details his life as a young man as he is forced to live knowing what happened to him and living with the knowledge that he took another’s life.

                These things include: the remaining time of his high school life and having to deal with his peers, Celine’s parents and witnessing them mourning  the loss of their only daughter, to going to college and thinking of Celine everyday, and getting married and having children.

                Half A Life is non-fiction. Strauss not only tells the story of the event that changed his life in many ways, he lets readers know the trauma and dilemmas a person goes through when they are a part of something like this. He simply couldn’t brush the accident off and pretend that nothing happened and that the life of a young girl was lost at the hands of him at the wheel because that was what happened and there was nothing he could do to take it back.

                I highly recommend this book for teens that are about to learn to drive, simply because it shows that when driving a car anything can happen, it doesn’t matter who you’re with or how safe you feel driving. Anything can happen, and every teen should be aware of this.

                I give Half A Life a rating of five out of five. 5/5
    Thank you #DarinStrauss for sharing your story.

    Written by Freddy Ramos



  • Series: Monument 14 Series (Book 2)

  • Hardcover: 224 pages

  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (May 28, 2013)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 0312569041

  • ISBN-13: 978-0312569044

  • Sky On Fire is the well awaited sequel of Monument 14, a trilogy written by Emmy Laybourne. The third book was released June 2, 2015. Unfortunately, Fresno the city I live in has only one major bookstore and it has no copies available. I will definitely be one of the first in stores to buy the last of this series once Barnes & Noble stocks up their book section.
                At the end of the first book we’re left with Dean and Astrid staying in the store with the three younger kids of the twins; Henry and Caroline, and Chloe. The rest of the kids have left on the school bus they first broke through the store with to get to the Denver International Airport where they’ve learned the army and government have organized an evacuation zone and they plan on telling the people in charge that there is still kids left at the store.
                Sky On Fire opens up with us having learned from the first book that Dean chose to stay with Astrid instead of traveling to Denver with his brother Alex and the others is because she’s confessed to Dean that she is pregnant and doesn’t want to go out there on the bus. And the twins Henry and Caroline have chosen to stay behind too because they were scared to leave the store, meanwhile Chloe isn’t aware she’s been left behind because she was given Benadryl to keep her asleep because of her O blood type and the others didn’t want to risk taking her.
               Sky On Fire is also fiction just like the first book. In her second installment of the Monument 14 trilogy, you read from the lives of Dean who tells of how he must live in the store with just him and Astrid as they watch over the little kids, and his brother Alex who must deal with the groups very dangerous journey to make it to Denver. Laybourne leaves no reader requesting more from her as she follows up from Monument 14 with an excellent sequel that is just as vivid and breathtaking as the first book.
                I recommend this book to teens the ages of 15 and older since there are some sexual situations and suggestive language in some parts of the book. I also recommend it for anybody that loved the first part of the trilogy and was waiting to find out what happened to our favorite dysfunctional teens and kids.
    I give it a rating of five out of five stars. 5/5

    Written BY Freddy Ramos

                             “Monument 14” by Emmy Laybourne


    Hardcover, 294 pages
    Published June 5th 2012 by Feiwel & Friends (first published January 1st 2012)
    more detailISBN: 0312569033 (ISBN13: 9780312569037)
    Edition language: English
    Monument 14 takes place in the future and tells the story of 14 kids, with grade levels ranging from kindergarten to eleventh grade that become stuck in a surplus grocery store.  Their situation occurs after a freak hailstorm forces their school bus driver to crash into the store. They have no way to reach their parents, nor do they have any way to find out what is going on since their entire phone/internet network is down, leading them to turn to the basic news channels in order to try and figure out what is happening.
    It is through the news they find out that there was a natural disaster “megatsunami” that triggered severe and freak weather conditions (hence, the freak hailstorm) to happen. They also find out that the Nuclear Weapons station near their town has been breached and the chemicals had been released into the air. These chemicals begin to cause certain symptoms to specific blood types, the kids learn that the chemicals will not go away from the air for 3 to 6 months. They must learn to live and survive in the store for as long as possible, and they must become a family if they wish to survive.
    Monument 14 is fiction and part of a trilogy. In this first installment you read from the viewpoint of Dean, a junior in high school and you see and live in the store just as he does, as he writes all about his new life in the store with his new “family”. Laybourne does a fantastic job of telling the story and makes the reader believe that they are Dean and are experiencing everything for themselves.
    I recommend this book to teens ages 15 and older. Since there is some suggestive parts and language in the book, so just be aware of this. Aside from that I loved the book and cannot wait to read the other two installments of the trilogy. I just purchased the second book Sky on Fire last night at Barnes & Nobles, so be on the lookout for the review in a few weeks.
    I give it a rating of five out of five stars. 5/5
    If you have any book recommendations, please feel free to email me @ and share your suggestions. Thanks.
    Happy Reading!
    Written by Freddy Ramos

    Heart Over Height

    By Nate Robinson with Jon Finkel
    Lulu Publishing, $11.99
    Publish Date:  5/29/2014

    Three-time Slam Dunk Contest Champion Nate Robinson was never supposed to be in the NBA. At least not at his height of 5 feet 9 inches tall. However, his height never stopped him from reaching his dreams no matter how high the shelf seemed to be. 
                         All of it could not have been possible without his mother. It was his mother being the biggest inspiration in his life. He watched how hard she worked to keep him and his siblings safe and healthy. He knew anything was possible through hard work. 
                         Living in Seattle, Washington, Nate attended Rainier Beach High School and played football and basketball. He played Varsity Basketball three years of his High School career and football three years of his High School Career. Robinson was a natural athlete.  
                       He missed one year of playing with his team when he had to move with his father to Oakland, CA. He made it back for his senior year to Seattle. Here is where he took off, dedicating the remainder of his high school year to gaining a place in University sports. After his senior year he committed to the University of Washington to play both football & basketball.
                       The book is a biography, autobiography, and memoir all in one. Reading "Heart Over Height" you will  follow Nate’s footsteps as he guides you through his childhood, his disappointments, his successes and all the way to his life in the NBA and how he raises his three kids.
                       Nate Robinson is an inspiration to kids around the world. I am one of those kids that was a fan even before I read the book and after, well, what can I say, I am a devout fan now. He gives hope to those who wish to someday make it to the pros in the sport of their choice. Robinson's book will give you hope. .

    I recommend this book to any athlete wishing to make it big one day in his or her sport. I give it a rating of four out of five stars. 4/5
    Freddy Ramos,
    Contributing writer 


    1 comment:

    1. I not a fan but will read the book and to see how much Nate Robinson inspiration u keep up the Review