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review 2017-11-22 20:20
Surprisingly entertaining Canadian & Cree First Nations read about overcoming your past and owning your power.
Strangers - David Alexander Robertson

Disclaimers: I'm reviewing an uncorrected proof ebook version acquired via NetGalley, I'm choosing to leave an unbiased review, and I'm not qualified to comment in-depth on aboriginal representation.

 

More disclaimers: Um, so I just want to note for the record that I already named characters Cole and Ash in BLIND THE EYES before I read this book. No plagiarism. I guess Canadian authors just think alike? lol.

 

I loved this WAY more than I expected to. To get a few critiques out of the way, the cover looks a little off to me (more indie or MG maybe?), so I wasn't expecting a lot of polish. The first few pages are also a little disorienting, because the author launches with a different perspective from the main POV, incorporates supernatural elements immediately without explanation, and references past events without backstory at first. All of which turns out to be great in the scope of the story, but it feels like jumping in the deep end.

 

This is the story of a 17yo Cree First Nations teen who left his rural home community in elementary school and is attending high school in Winnipeg at the time the story opens. A supernatural being is trying to lure him back to his hometown. His aunt and grandmother don't want him to return for reasons that aren't explained at first, but we discover that there's past trauma and bullying to contend with. Cole also has some superior abilities that may be more than natural. There's a lot going on in the plot:

 

-trickster spirits, ghosts, unexplained supernatural/paranormal phenomena
-murder mystery/thriller
-romance? maybe?
-bullying, trauma & clinical anxiety (incl. struggles with medication)
-rural vs. city enmities/tension
-First Nations/aboriginal experience (on/off reserve, resourcing, discrimination)

 

As a Canadian, and as someone who actually lived in Winnipeg during her childhood, there was a lot that felt familiar in this, including issues raised that I'm not sure if a foreign reader would pick up on or not. The author (based on his Goodreads bio) does live in Winnipeg and is a member of a Cree First Nation, so this is an #ownvoices book with (to the best of my knowledge) good representation.

 

I liked how the struggles that First Nations people experience within Canadian society were included within the scope of the story, but that the focus was on the characters and their experiences. It can be hard to write good fiction that represents real-world issues without breaking character or bogging down/diverting the plot (see: preachy dystopias for one), so I thought Robertson did an excellent job of including accurate world-building in service of the story. For instance, there are medical emergencies in the scope of the story, and it's referenced a few times how help is requested but the government takes a long time to respond, ignores the pleas, or doesn't send the help needed in a timely manner. Remote communities struggle for resources and lose people to the cities where there's more opportunity, jobs etc.

 

Some Cree words are used (and translated in place), some ritual and beliefs are incorporated, but the narrative doesn't suffer at all from the exoticisation of aboriginal culture. (Though maybe American readers will feel like it's "exotic" Canadian culture?) If anything, the hockey-playing, tiny-remote-community, one-restaurant-in-town setting felt so recognizable to me that it would have been boring if not for the strong character writing and murdery-plot.

 

Cole and his friends are relatable as teenagers struggling with a variety of issues: tragic pasts, tension with childhood friendships left behind, current identity and past identity, sexual identity and relationships, trust issues with adults who're keeping secrets . . . Also, the writing of "Choch" the trickster-spirit was hilarious. That's probably what tipped this story from a good read to "when's the sequel coming out?" for me. His clowning felt instantly recognizable and, at times, laugh-out-loud hilarious. It was a great counterpoint to the dark thriller plot that could have headed into way more emo territory without him.

 

I'm totally down for reading a sequel/series about a Canadian First Nations teen with superpowers and his trickster spirit sidekick/tormenter/guide/whatever.

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text 2017-09-07 21:10
Dodie Clark & Her New Book! (Youtuber books...)

 

Confession: I'm a bit of a Dodie fangirl. I enjoy her YouTube videos and her music. I'm kind of shocked I was approved to read this book, as I am a little "nobody" in the blogger/reviewer world, but it has happened, I'm reading it and liking it so far.

 

I kind of really like her. She's quirky and has a good singing voice. Her videos usually have meaning other than getting views for money, at least I think so. I don't watch every one of her videos. In fact, I do not watch every video of any person I follow on YouTube. I just feel like she is genuine. She talks about her mental health openly, isn't afraid to be herself, in fact a lot of her videos is sans makeup, even with acne/acne scars and I find that so refreshing. I think we should not be so focused on how we look. So we get pimples? So we gain weight? We're all human and these things happen! Dodie can be a role model to other people with similar experiences, though watch her with caution, as there have been viewers that mentioned watching people talk about anxiety, depression...etc can be triggering for them, because sometimes she is known to get in a dark place with her Instagram and Snap Chat stories.

 

In this video, Dodie wonders if there is a such thing as oversharing when it comes to depression...etc

Am I oversharing?

 

In this video she follows up and apologizes.

Follow Up

 

 

 

 

I'm not big on YouTuber books, but got really excited for Dodie's book. Maybe she will change my mind about these sort of books and I will give more a chance. Though I am not sure I follow too many people who have published.

 

There is Connie Glynn "Noodlerella's" fiction novel, which I am curious about. Undercover Princess by Connie Glynn. The name and plot sound quite cliche and I can swear I have read something exactly like it before, like on Wattpad, so that is bugging me! But I do want to give it a try, as I enjoy Connie's YouTube channels as well.

 

 

---

 

The only YouTube book I have tried to read is:

Gabbie is from "The Gabbie Show" and I've only watched a couple of her videos.

And this book wasn't for me, sadly.

 

---


Disclaimer: I received "Secrets For The Mad" by Dodie Clark from Netgally in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for the chance to read this! Review will come closer to publication date, which is in November.

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photo 2017-09-01 22:57
PCOS Awareness Month September

September is PCOS Awareness Month… spread the Word…

http://www.pcosaa.org/

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text 2016-11-08 20:45
8th November

 

I am still trying hard to find way to increase the attention I am getting on this blog (which I haven't been on a lot so I know that hasn't helped) so ANYONE with a good social reach with some advice would be greatly appreciated because I would love to have more traffic to this blog, I was going to start a YouTube channel but I am far too nervous and it would send my anxiety into overdrive so i am just going to stick to watching YouTube video I live for the days that Acacia Ives posts her video's 

 

I have started reading Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's book 2) and I am only 66 pages in but it seems to be picking up already and I can't wait to finish writing this up to continue it and then read Library of Souls my reading is picking up which is great but I think that the pressure to read does come from seeing that other people are reading so much and i know that its something that I can't help because I am so busy with work I just have to start making more time to read especially on a night time. 

 

What is everyone else reading comment below and let me know if you recommend it ???

 

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review 2016-10-06 01:10
Sick Reading: Alyssa Day
The Cursed - Alyssa Day
Atlantis Rising - Alyssa Day

I got super sick last week and read a half dozen trashy and less trashy PNR/UF books to salve my soul. Also, I managed to tear through all of the Mercy Thompson books, so I'm a little at loose ends as far as light reading goes. I hit a lot of different series to try them out, and first up is my accounting of Alyssa Day.

 

I started with The Cursed, because I think I had a copy already on my ereader (this will become a theme.) I've seen her name in conjunction with other writers I like (specifically Meljean Brook) and I was hoping it would be a readalike. The Cursed ended up being really fun, set in a pocket universe place on the edge of a bunch of other demonic and elvish realms, I like this sort of word, folded into and on the edges of our world, just a stop off the wrong street in Manhattan.

 

The main dude was a rugged wizard detective type, all powerful and broody, but the text poked a fair amount of fun at him. The humor was solid, and not entirely dependent on "banter", which I find generally tiresome. All in all, a fun ride, and I was full bummed to find that this was the first in a series that doesn't seem to have any other books. Given that it's been a couple years (and the breakneck publishing speed of these kinds of books), I suspect it must not have done well, and that's that. Drag.

 

So I then moved on to Atlantis Rising, which was Day's very first novel, and successful enough to spawn a solid series. Frankly, I thought it was awful: clunky characterization and cliche everything, with a raft of unlikable assholes and dodgy enough theology to get me going in a very serious way. Apparently, Atlantis is real, as is Poseidon, but they've dropped out of the world because reasons. Meanwhile, vampires and shifters are also real, and they've come out of the closet, so to speak, and are now running Congress and the like.

 

The dick prince of Atlantic ends up coming ashore and falling instantly in lust with some girl with heretofore unknown powers. He's been held and tortured for the last couple years by a vampire queen, and this is his first foray out into the world. He's followed by his complaining compliment of dudes, the worst of which is a priest. I couldn't possibly conjure the ins and outs of the plot, but I found just about everything about Atlantis awful, from the bitching leadership to the plot-expedient whims of the god of the sea.

 

Not to invoke the dread voice of cultural critic Harold Bloom too loudly (and for sure he'd absolutely choke on his Manischewitz if he heard me say this), but Day's first novel has all of the earmarks of the anxiety of influence. The Atlanteans appear to be modeled on the Black Dagger Brotherhood, all black leather and bulging muscles. But the BDB can produce just pages of funny dialogue, and here the repartee was more along the lines of the single entente.

 

Set against the later The Cursed, you can see Day in Atlantis Rising working off the books and characters that influenced her writing, trying (and failing) to produce the the things she enjoys to read, but isn't particularly gifted at producing. The world of The Cursed is way more sensible than anything in the BDB, and her humor more situational than quipping. It was cool to see that she has found her voice, and also a downer to think that maybe it wasn't as successful as her earlier, shakier writing. Alas, the whims of the market are jerks.

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