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Search tags: Coming-of-Age
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review 2017-03-22 18:50
Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall
Hell Hound - Grady Hendrix,Ken Greenhall,Jessica Hamilton

 

In the late 70's, I started reading horror in earnest, and I honestly thought I was familiar with most horror writers of the time. I was wrong. I'd never heard of Ken Greenhall until Valancourt Books brought him to my attention. Now, I want to get my hands on everything he's written.

 

Baxter, the bull terrier, is a sociopath. But he's just a dog, you might say! It's true, but he's observant, willful and extremely dangerous. With some portions of this book being from his point of view, the reader gets a clear look into what's going on in that doggie head of his. I know this book sounds cheesy, and perhaps like a rip-off of Cujo, but the facts are that it's not cheesy at all, and it was written before Cujo. Featuring keen insights into human behavior, precise but spare prose, and bringing to the reader a growing sense of dread and horror, I'm pretty sure this will be among the best books I will read this year.

 

My highest recommendation! You can get your copy here: Hell Hound

 

*Thanks to Valancourt Books for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-03-17 18:59
So, I Finally Read Binti by Nnedi Okorafor and Here's What I Thought...
Binti - Nnedi Okorafor

 

The cover was perfect.

On a related note, look at what the author had to say about the whitewashing of her covers.

 

I loved how the acknowledgments described UAE as "futuristic ancient".

It is such a perfect description because you get this old feel when you visit the place and then there are those skyscrapers that add a futuristic shade to things. Mostly unrelated but reminded me of how a Pakistani artist imagined our country would like in SF mode! Check it out:

 

 

 

 

 

See more of his art here. Anyway, back to the review:

 

This is how YAs should go!

I mean there's this teenager who is running away from home, readying herself to face all kinds of racism, just so she can attend a university. I loved that.

 

Some thoughts were expressed so beautifully...

 

 

 

 

I might have been reading too much into it but I could see some parallels.

While talking about cooking fish, Binti mentioned:

 

they lulled the fish into a sleep that the fish never woke from

It reminded me of two things:

a) The Himba are an animist people, which is why they would be gentle towards any organisms they consumed.

b) How as Muslims we have rules upon rules that minimize the pain of an animal prior to being slaughtered for food.

 

 

I loved how Binti's love and respect for her family would shine through her thoughts. For instance, look at this quote:

 

Would my family even comprehend it all when I explained it to them?

 

And then, she followed it with another thought that I wasn't expecting. She didn't think they weren't smart enough to understand why she did what she did. Instead, she said:

 

Or would they just fixate on the fact that I'd almost died...

 

I kept imagining the Meduse as the love-child of jellyfishes and Cthulhu though I dunno why! While researching that unholy union, I came across this instead:

 

 

To summarize, YA done well, in terms of strong, sensible female lead, making it a must-read for all YA lovers out there.

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review 2017-03-16 03:54
Review: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
We Are Okay - Nina LaCour

Quick review for a quick read. Leave it to Nina LaCour to tug at my heartstrings every single time I pick up a book from her. For what it's worth, I did enjoy "We Are Okay" though it wasn't as strong for me as some of the author's other narratives (a.k.a "Hold Still"). It's the story of a young woman named Marin who escapes her life after a series of tragedies and has to come to terms with them as her best friend reunites with her over Winter Break while she's in college.

I wasn't surprised by Marin's actions given that I knew she was in a state of denial, grief, and anguish, but it was the reasons behind those emotions that kept me pushing through the novel to see them in full. I'll admit that at times the delivery of these story details is uneven and took me some time to push through, but I always respect and appreciate the genuine way LaCour's able to dig into the raw emotions of her characters. There's much that haunts Marin, and it takes an exploration of the past meeting the present to bring it together (trading between months of memories and present details). I appreciated the range of emotions and coming to terms that Marin shows through the narrative, and felt for her on the note of her relationships with her mother and grandfather, as well as her best friend Mabel and roommate Hannah. The narrative features a prominent character of color and a lesbian relationship with enough moments to feel for the characters even through the events that affect them. I enjoyed getting to know the range of characters in this book and thought it did a fine job of showcasing the dedication of people around Marin to let her know she wasn't lost or forgotten, though her journey after her experiences had her mentally wading through some dark places (some of which I'll admit resonated with me because I've been in that headspace as a result of loss - in more ways than one - before. I don't know if I'd even think to do what Marin did ultimately, but I could see the reasons behind her behavior.)

In the end, it was a solid reading experience for me, a story that I could definitely get behind though it did take some wading through slower, uneven moments in the narrative to get there.

Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.

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review 2017-03-15 04:15
Review: Summerlost by Ally Condie
Summerlost - Ally Condie

Quick review for a quick read. I was first introduced to "Summerlost" through a snippet offered on NetGalley, but I later checked out a full version of the book from my local library. This definitely satisfied my longing for a quick read in the form of a fulfilling MG/teen summer story. It's Ally Condie's middle-grade debut about a girl named Cedar who's coping with her first summer after her father's and brother's tragic accident. She returns to the town of Iron Creek for the summer, meeting a boy named Leo and volunteering her time at a theater festival called Summerlost. It is also a chance for her to join Leo in a side job directing tours surrounding the 2oth anniversary of the death of a Hollywood actress whose life was cut short due to tragic circumstances as well.

This proved to be a very quick read in the audiobook form, and I found Cedar's voice to be cheerful and easy to follow. The story provided some nice turns of showcasing the strong bond between Leo and Cedar, as well as illuminating and valuable showcases of Cedar with her family, though in brief spells. The setting was probably the strongest part of this narrative. I did feel that some parts of the narrative left much to be desired for deeper emotional development and narrative styling, but I liked the theme and enjoyed the overarching story for what it offered.

Overall score: 3/5 stars.

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review 2017-03-15 01:16
Review: American Street by Ibi Zoboi
American Street - Ibi Zoboi

Initial reaction: I enjoyed every moment of this novel because it was an emotional and realistic journey with a strong protagonist whose narrative voice stayed with me long after I finished the story. It's a difficult read to swallow in places because of the actions of some of the characters, but in the end, I was rooting for Fabiola to find her footing.

Full review:

I have so many emotions upon finishing "American Street" - and that's a very good thing.

It's a story with many layers to its narrative, brought to life by the vivid narration and characterization throughout. "American Street" tells the story of Fabiola, a Haitian immigrant arriving in the United States, but separated from her mother along the way when she's detained by authorities at the airport. Fabiola ends up in Detroit, living with her aunt and three cousins as she tries to adjust to life in America between waiting for efforts to get her mother back and pursuing her own ends to make it happen. This is only part of the story, as Fabiola reflects on her experiences in Haiti, struggles to fit in alongside her cousins at school, discovers some tough truths involving the people around her, both friends and enemies alike.

I think Fabiola is one of the most well rounded and voiced protagonists I've read in a YA work in a long time. She's fiercely loyal to her family, faith (she practices Voudou, which is probably one of the few times it's actually portrayed in a non-stereotypical way that I've seen in many works, including YA), and goals. She's not without flaws, and the way she recounts her experiences in Haiti alongside her difficult adjustment to life in Detroit is vibrant and vivid. The relationship between her and her cousins (Primadonna, Chantal, and Pri) is wonderfully done. I liked the rolling banter between them in places, allowing the reader to get to know them in the way that is close to Fabiola, but also for their own motivations. The narrative allows a deeper eye into some of the side-characters through monologue snippets delivered between chapters in a seamless way. I was even taken by the scenes of romance and relationship building that I saw through the narrative. The diversity of the characterization feels natural, well established, and refreshing to read in many respects.

I'll admit "American Street" hit me hard on a number of emotional levels because of the way the story unfolds and the turns of conflict. The narrative takes an honest look at relationship abuse, drug dealing and abuse, inner-city life, cultural clashes, among a number of other subjects. One could say that in some ways, there quite a few threads that aren't completely tied, but its Fabiola's resilience and transformation that carries the momentum of the story despite places where the story could've had better closure. The weight of Fabiola's decisions also factor into the story and give some raw moments of grief and coming to terms that really stood out for me. In the end, I really appreciated the narrative journey that "American Street" took me on, and it's one I'd definitely read again.

Overall score: 4/5 stars.

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