Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme that was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners but is now currently being hosted by Emily @ Budget Tales Book Blog. This meme is quite easy to follow – just randomly pick a book from your to-be-read list and give the reasons why you want to read it. It is that simple.

This week’s book:

Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Blurb from Goodreads

The explosive, hotly-anticipated debut novel from the New York Times-bestselling author of Friday Black, about two top women gladiators fighting for their freedom within a depraved private prison system not so far-removed from America’s own.

Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxxx” Stacker are the stars of Chain-Gang All-Stars, the cornerstone of CAPE, or Criminal Action Penal Entertainment, a highly-popular, highly-controversial, profit-raising program in America’s increasingly dominant private prison industry. It’s the return of the gladiators and prisoners are competing for the ultimate prize: their freedom.

In CAPE, prisoners travel as Links in Chain-Gangs, competing in death-matches for packed arenas with righteous protestors at the gates. Thurwar and Staxxx, both teammates and lovers, are the fan favorites. And if all goes well, Thurwar will be free in just a few matches, a fact she carries as heavily as her lethal hammer. As she prepares to leave her fellow Links, she considers how she might help preserve their humanity, in defiance of these so-called games, but CAPE’s corporate owners will stop at nothing to protect their status quo and the obstacles they lay in Thurwar’s path have devastating consequences.

Moving from the Links in the field to the protestors to the CAPE employees and beyond, Chain-Gang All-Stars is a kaleidoscopic, excoriating look at the American prison system’s unholy alliance of systemic racism, unchecked capitalism, and mass incarceration, and a clear-eyed reckoning with what freedom in this country really means.

Why I Want To Read It

The long vacation is finally over. The long weekend is over. Just like that, it is Monday again! I knew it was coming but I am still not prepared. I am still feeling a little hung over from those five days I spent traveling with my family. After months of planning, I was finally able to fulfill a life-long wish although I am having second thoughts about doing it again. My anxiety levels were sky-high – especially during the shaky plane ride and the huge waves that were assaulting the small boats we were on – as this time around, I wasn’t only thinking about myself but also about my family; family means my parents, younger brother and his wife and my grandfather. Nonetheless, I am happy that I was able to gift them with a reprieve from their own stresses. This journey to Palawan, called the country’s last frontier, also gave them new experiences; for starters, it was my father, grandfather, and brother’s first plane ride.

On another note, I hope you all were able to spend the weekend wisely or productively. Or if you spent it just procrastinating, that is fine s well; I can perfectly understand. While most of us dread Mondays – understandably so – I look at it as a door to new opportunities. It is a chance to become a better version of ourselves. With this, I hope that in the coming week, you will be able to accomplish everything you set out to achieve. I hope that your week will be productive. However, if you are not up to it, I hope you spend the week resting and recovering. More importantly, I hope everyone is doing well, in body, mind, and spirit.

As has been customary I am kickstarting the blogging week with a fresh Goodreads Monday update. Oh, I just realized that this is going to be my last update for February. We’re nearly done with one-sixth of the year. Time does fly fast. Anyway, in the past month, I have been reading works of Irish and British literature; this was after I spent January reading works published in the previous year, a form of reading catch-up reminiscent of how I started my 2022 reading journey. For this Goodreads Monday update, however, I am featuring neither a book published in 2022 nor a work of a British or Irish writer. Rather, I am featuring Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s Chain-Gang All-Stars.

Prior to this year, I have never heard of Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah nor had I read any of his works. From the “Kwame” in his name, I am wagering that the author has Ghanaian heritage; I previously had a Ghanaian classmate at university who explained that their names include the day of the week they were born. In this case, the author was born on a Saturday. Sure enough, he was the son of Ghanaian immigrants. It was only while searching for books to include in my 2023 Top 10 Books I Look Forward to List that I came across the American writer. Chain-Gang All-Stars was repeatedly mentioned in similar lists; it was a no-brainer for me to include it on my own.

I later learned that Chain-Gang All-Stars is not Adjei-Brenyah’s first book as he had previously published Friday Black, a collection of short stories. This makes Chain-Gang All-Stars his first foray into the world of full-length prose. Knowing Chain-Gang All-Stars is the writer’s debut novel makes me look forward to it even more. The story is also a work of dystopian fiction; it was no wonder that the book’s title was rather, say, unconventional. The title easily piques the reader’s curiosity. Woah. It seems that the book has violent undercurrents as it projects the plights of the contemporary with the events transpiring in America’s prison system. From the synopsis, I can sense a survival of the fittest trope. For reasons I cannot fathom, the blurb somehow reminded me of Mad Max Fury.

The book is set to be released in April. I am hoping that I can avail a copy of the book without much trouble. How about you fellow reader? How was your Monday? What books have you added to your reading list? Do drop it in the comment box. For now, happy Monday and, as always, happy reading!