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review 2018-07-16 12:54
Mud City (The Breadwinner, #3) by Deborah Ellis
Mud City - Deborah Ellis

After reading Parvana's Journey, I decided to hop right into Mud City to see what will happen next to Parvana and her family. However, once I started to read it, I quickly discovered that this book followed her friend Shauzia, not Parvana. That's didn't deter me from reading the book, of course, because I loved Shauzia in the first book and was looking forward to her journey since last we heard from her. I just had to change my expectations of what the book was going to be about. And is was such a fantastic read! Reading these books have been a wonderful experience. I'm enjoying it tremendously. They have been heartbreaking, especially this installment for very personal reasons which I will explain momentarily. But these book have been a valuable experience throughout.

 

I'm going to start off by talking about Shauzia. This is the first time we get the story through her perspective. In The Breadwinner, we see her through Parvana's eyes. We learn that she wants to escape her life in Afghanistan by going to the sea and traveling to France. At the end of the first book, we learn that Parvana and Shauzia make a promise to meet in twenty years on top of the Eiffel Tower to know that they were able to make it out safely. In Parvana's Journey, the only mention of Shauzia we get is through the letters Parvana writes to her. We don't actually see her. So this is the first time we get to learn more about her. She is a lot more hot-headed than Parvana is. She is someone who fights hard for what she wants, not paying any mind to the consequences. Shauzia is more of a loner and a fighter than Parvana, and I wouldn't have her any other way. She makes some foolish mistakes, but she comes out the better for making them and I'm now looking forward to learning more about her and Parvana in the last book in the series! 

 

Deborah Ellis continues to write about difficult subject matters in an approachable way so that anyone, children and adults alike, can understand and empathize about the wars happening in Afghanistan. I am learning so much about what happened in Afghanistan in the past for it to be the way it is now. Although, I remember some of what happened through personal experience. I lived across the Hudson when the World Trade Center Towers were destroyed. I saw them crumble down. I saw the sky covered in the thick, black smoke. I saw people running around, trying to get their families together. I heard yelling and crying and screaming coming every which way. I was stuck in traffic for five hours in a ride that should have taken ten minutes. All of that is still fresh in my mind. So reading about that in this book, it was so hard for me... but I'm glad to see that this book didn't shy away from mentioning that terrible event. I'm glad it's being talked about and written about and taught to younger kids. That this book shows that there's good and bad everywhere. That even though what happened in New York that day still haunts and hurts a lot of us here in the States, that there are people in Afghanistan who are hurt by those same events and that they, too, want the violence and suffering to stop. Just knowing that this book is out there for kids to read and learn that not everyone is cruel gives me hope.

 

I'm going to stop now. Reading Mud City and then writing this review has made me emotional, I know, but I had to get this out. This is an amazing book. An amazing series! Please, if you have not read the first two, give them a shot. If you have, read this one, too! It's just as good as the first two. Read it to your kids, if you have any, or just read it for yourself. They are such great books and I highly recommend them.

 

And now I'm off to read the final book in The Breadwinner series. I'm a bit worried to see how everything is going to end, but there's no way I'm going to stop now. I want to know the ending and I can't wait to read My Name is Parvana.

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review 2018-07-15 20:44
Literary horror novel 'The Grip of It' leaves me with too many questions...or does it?
The Grip of It: A Novel - Jac Jemc

This book was a pick for my Litsy horror postal book club, and the second in a row that had the theme of a haunted house (this came on the back of the classic 'The Haunting of Hill House', which almost isn't fair, since that book is so well-known, and it was hard not to think of it).
'The Grip of It' was on my radar for a while after I noticed its cover, which is covered in the 'drawings' that show up mysteriously inside the house that the young couple, Julie and James, buy when they move to a small town outside of the city. There are lots of things that mysteriously go on inside the house (or do they?), after they move in, and the couple learns of the family that used to live there (or was it next door?), and they have so many questions that they start to run together...and largely are unanswered. ALL the way through to the end of the book. That was ultimately my biggest problem with 'The Grip of It': not ever feeling like questions were answered. The two main characters were also so similar (and weak, in my opinion), that their perspectives ran together, so the storytelling device of different chapters being their alternating different voices was ineffective. Whether or not this was intentional or not as a device to show that they were becoming of 'one mind' as the house took over, it was very confusing to read as the book continued.
I mostly enjoyed the literary prose and new approach to a 'horror' novel but occasionally I was a annoyed with the short sentences, which broke up some very beautiful writing, and very quotable prose.
And like most horror stories, the couple, Julie and James do frustratingly keep going back to this house that is obviously causing them to drift apart and for Julie to become ill (ergot poisoning? seizures?), yet the house sells quickly, so even though it seems that in general we have a no-nonsense 'literary' horror novel, we still have these silly tropes that don't make sense after all.
And what on earth happened to Rolf? ?
Still, I read this quickly, and it was a page-turner, it kept me engaged. It just could've been so much better.

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video 2018-07-14 19:30
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review 2018-07-14 14:08
Parvana's Journey (The Breadwinner, #2) by Deborah Ellis
Parvana's Journey - Deborah Ellis

After how much I adored the first book in this series, I decided to continue on with Parvana and her journey to find her family. I'm glad I did. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking, painful story about a young girl as she travels throughout Afghanistan under the Taliban rule. I'll put it bluntly, this book is a difficult read. People are dying, children are starving, and there's violence throughout so... it's not for the faint of heart. However, I highly recommend you read this book if you've read the first one and appreciated the story within.

 

Parvana is still an incredible character. In this book, she is very angry and tired and looses patience quite easily with the other children. Can you blame her? Her entire life has been nothing but strife and chaos. She's a young girl who knows war and only war. And it's getting to her. I felt so strongly for her in the first book, but I feel so much more for her in this one. She's been through so much already and you know she's only going to experience so much more pain still. Asif is a new character and I adore him, too. He starts off as a brat and, as the story continues, he's still a brat but he acts more like a brother to Parvana. He's sweet and caring, he just doesn't know how to show it. Another character that's new to the story is Leila. She is a lovely little girl with a vivid imagination who joins Parvana and Asif on their journey to find Parvana's family. She is free-spirited and so sweet; I adore her so much!

 

Ellis did a fantastic job in writing this book and creating these characters. She is bringing awareness to what happened in Afghanistan and is helping young children understand that part of the world a little more. She is urging for us to help in any way we can so that way people in Afghanistan, especially women and children, have a chance to live a life free from war and violence and starvation. I love that she wrote these books with the intention to help those in Afghanistan.

 

I love this book just as much as I love the first book in The Breadwinner series. I will continue to read the rest of this series because I want to know what is going to happen with Parvana. I have to see how her story will end. I hope she is able to find peace and happiness one day. I truly do. And I shall continue to read in order to find out! Please read this series! To learn more about our history, Afghanistan's history, and the history of many women who have lived through the war under the Taliban rule. It's a heavy read, but one well worth the weight. 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-07-13 20:34
Wild Blood by Nancy A. Collins
Wild Blood - Nancy A. Collins

Wild Blood by Nancy A. Collins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When tragedy befalls Skinner Cade, he sets out to discover his origins - just who was his biological parents? Unable to keep his temper in check, his search soon takes a detour as he lands himself in prison, where an incident results in an all-out bloodbath. A monster resides within Skinner, one he's unsure how to handle, and when he's introduced to the world of the vargr, he's not even sure he wants to learn of his ancestry.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

This was an impulsive buy at the local secondhand bookstore, as first and foremost, the cover caught my eye. It seemed almost comedic, so I was under the impression it would include some sort of black humour. I was wrong, however, and was confronted with over the top depictions of rape and incest that were heavily integrated into the plot itself. Don’t get me wrong, I love werewolves; the more brutal the better, but this was the first time where such disturbingly sexualised topics dominated the pages. It became apparent that important story elements were sacrificed in order to rush the plot along, and focus primarily on graphic content. I should also mention that I don’t have any issues with graphic content concerning sex, however if I feel such matters damage the overall story, then that’s where my problems lie. Despite being a short book, a lot actually happens; there’s before, during and after prison, as well as the rut melee with a lot in between. There certainly were interesting characters and predicaments that Skinner got himself into, but they were so underdeveloped that I just couldn’t get a proper sense of them.

Let’s start with the prison and Skinner’s relationship with Cheater. There appeared to be a connection between them, or something I couldn’t quite grasp. Cheater’s dream and use of the term “Prince” was certainly interesting, but it was so ridiculously vague. I also felt that the friendship in itself was bewildering, as Skinner, of whom was supposed to be a “good guy”, was perfectly fine with his companion stealing and murdering. If this had of been fleshed out, with time given to properly establish them both, then it just might have made sense. This goes for the later half of the book as well, where things rapidly progressed until Skinner was suddenly of great importance.

I actually liked Skinner to an extent, and I enjoyed that his life took a radical turn into the world of claws and teeth, but I couldn’t attach myself nor particularly care what came of him when his development left a lot to be desired. As a person, Skinner often fluctuated between being decent and being rather questionable, with what actually drove his actions leaving nothing but confusion. I think the intention was for him to be the unexpected hero; the good man thrown into the fray and always coming out on top - which I, ultimately, didn't care for. Don't even get me started on the last minute romance attempt, because it was positively absurd.

The shock factor loses its value if overexposed, at least in my case. Sure, the first rape scene (of a dog, I might add), was very much unpleasant, but each taboo subject thereafter only numbed me further. By the end, I wasn't even remotely surprised by what transpired. It was, without a doubt, very curious that Collins decided to go down the route she did - painting the species of "vargr" in a very ugly light, moreso than the usual bloodthirsty monsters of the genre. As it was, I had a hope that the entire race would perish.

In conclusion - I've changed my initial rating to accurately reflect my thoughts, from three stars to only two. It was overly rushed to appropriately develop the plot and characters, instead relying upon disturbing content to carry it through. A shame, as the concept itself was intriguing.

Notable Quote:

"The vargr are all belly and eyes. They desire all that they see. And that which they can not have - they destroy. Completely and utterly."

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/07/13/wild-blood-by-nancy-a-collins
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