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review 2017-11-11 10:21
All the Names They Used for God: Stories - Anjali Sachdeva

Release Date:02.20.18


All the Names They Used for God, Anjali Sachdeva’s debut release, is a stellar collection of short stories that explores the strangeness that is the human experience and our small stature in the vastness of the cosmos. Rewards abound for the short story lover: science gone awry in “Pleiades”; abandonment and love gone wrong in “Anything You Might Want”; man versus wild (and the call of suicide) in “Logging Lake.” These are intricate, spinning tales that took me off guard.


Does this collection have a theme? I don’t know. Perhaps spirituality is the link (and there is the title to be considered); these stories do ponder the concept of a God and how much say he — or it — has over our lives . . . and how much of what happens to us is pure chance. Bits of magical realism abound (see mermaid tale “Robert Greenman and the Mermaid”), but overall these tales are unwavering, realistic looks at the human condition.


I was pleasantly surprised by these stories. I suspected I would like this collection, but I was knocked for a loop. Compelling and challenging in equal measure, this author is one to watch. I await her next release with baited breath.


Thanks to Netgalley and Spiegal & Grau for the advanced reader’s copy!

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text 2017-09-19 15:39
When Michael Met Mina
When Michael Met Mina - Randa Abdel-Fattah

So no one working on this book has read Skellig?

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review 2017-08-19 19:50
How could this be so incredibly dull?
House of Names: A Novel - Colm Tóibín

Had never read anything by Toibin before but I was totally sold on the premise: the retelling of 'The Oresteia'. It's been quite a long time since I've studied the original story for school but I figured I had enough knowledge at this point that a modern "retelling"/fleshing out of the tale would be fantastic. I mean, there's adultery, filicide, matricide, etc. A soapy soap opera.


And this is...not that. I'm not sure if having any experience with the author had anything to with it but this was just dreadfully dull. It's like Toibin just tried a little too hard. I couldn't feel the rage or pain of Clytemnestra. Yes, her child was killed for no good reason. Agamemnon must pay. She wants her revenge. Etc.


There's tons of material to mine and given the sparse source material there's always a fantastic opportunity to flesh this out and make it his own. This isn't it at all. I read Toibin's words but it just didn't elicit any response. It seemed heavy-handed and as if the text was trying too hard.


It also doesn't help that the book is told from many different POVs. As other reviews say: if he had stuck with one POV that might have worked. Or even sticking with each different narrator, perhaps. But going back and forth (plus the switch from first to third person) is a technique I can't stand. 


I waited forever for this book had come through but this wasn't a good retelling of a classic myth. I can't say if you'd like this if you're a Toibin fan, but as someone who enjoyed reading the Greek/Roman myths when I was younger and enjoy retellings I can't recommend this one. If you're *really* interested, I'd recommend you wait for the library, get an ARC or buy it cheap.

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review 2017-08-11 23:33
The Thousand Names by Django Wexler
The Thousand Names - Django Wexler

See review at Book Haunt

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review 2017-07-07 11:46
Review: The Names They Gave Us
The Names They Gave Us - Emery Lord

I received a copy from Netgalley.


I had pre ordered this one ages ago, but I have a habit of pre ordering finished copies of Emery Lord books and requesting them on Netgalley as soon as I see them. Usually I start them as soon as I’m approved, but in this case it took me a while to get round to starting this one. Mainly because of the subjects it dealt with – faith and cancer.


While it took me a while to get into the novel, by the end I did love it to pieces, and as with every Emery Lord book I’ve read by the end I was in floods of tears. Beautifully written, and I thought it handled the tough subjects excellently. A+ points for diverse characters, transgender rep and friendships as well. The characters were fantastic and well fleshed out. The romance was adorable. The adults were likeable as well.


The novel tells the story of teenager Lucy who has learned that her mother’s cancer has returned. Lucy’s dad is a pastor, she’s very religious. She has a great relationship with her parents, she has a steady boyfriend of several years Lucas. Though on receiving the news, she falls to pieces. She starts to question her faith. It’s all handled very thoughtfully and manages to do it without being preachy at all. So bonus points for that.


Lucy’s parents run a Christian themed summer camp and she usually helps out as a councillor, but her mom convinces her to try being a councillor at the camp the other side of the lake, Daybreak. Which is a camp helping troubled children. Her mom thinks this may help Lucy deal with some of her own issue. She’s in pieces in private, but determined to put on a strong face around her parents. Though she’s acting out and getting overly amorous with the boyfriend. The boyfriend was also very religious and frankly, a bit of a dick. He was trying to be patient and understanding, but it didn’t come across very well – then – he puts their relationship ON PAUSE over the summer. Jerk.


Lucy is a bit reluctant to try Daybreak, she just wants to be with her mom. But she finds herself getting to know the other councillors her age, and dealing with the children, from all sorts of different backgrounds with all sorts of problems. As much as I liked Lucy and her voice I did find her to be kind of sheltered, maybe something to do with her deep religious beliefs. One of the kids, a girl of 14 is pregnant, and Lucy is quite shocked by this. She turns out to really connect to the girl and help her a lot.


Lucy makes friends in the camp, though the other councillors have known each other for years, she struggles to find her way into the close group of close-knit friends. It’s very sweet as she learns to accept the other kids who they are, find things in common with them, and gets to know them. She finds herself attracted one of the councillors her age, a boy named Henry. They bond and develop a close friendship with the potential for something more. Lucy has to figure out if she really wants to make the relationship with Lucas work, or go for something new with Henry. It works really well and adds a lot of depth to Lucy’s character as she struggles to make her decisions.


Lucy has to deal with a lot of different emotions and manages to handle them extremely well. She has her moments where she does fall apart. I did find I really liked her views on her struggle with her faith as well. A lot of it made a great deal of sense as she pondered it out. And there really were some beautiful passages on faith towards the end of the novel.


Tough subjects, but well worth reading.


I loved it.


Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) for approving my request to view the title.

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