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review 2018-07-18 02:58
So much hidden meaning
The Intuitionist - Colson Whitehead

The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead is included in the list of 100 titles chosen by American citizens for The Great American Read hosted by PBS. (More info on the books on the list and how you can vote for America's favorite novel can be found here.) In an effort to read more diversely (and to have the ability to recommend books for the adults in my branch) I started with this book as I had never heard of it despite it being listed as a 'classic'. The story follows Lila Mae Watson who is the first female person of color to be an Elevator Inspector. In the world created by Whitehead elevators are the height (ha!) of technology and the majority of the population see them as somewhat mystical and beyond the realm of ordinary comprehension. (There are even guilds which seek to elevate the status of Elevator Inspectors in society to those in political office.) Even more confusing to discern are the two distinct sects of theory as to the maintenance and future of these machines. One school of thought is firmly rooted in the reality of the technology while the other views them as metaphysical creations that can be 'sensed'. Lila Mae belongs to the second school of thought which further compounds the problems that she faces among her coworkers and the public that she encounters on her daily rotations. This sci-fi novel is rooted in the reality of race. What drives the story are the veiled discussions of race but it is told through the lens of technology innovations. It is ultimately a story of hope for a better world where we are 'elevated' from the weaknesses and barbarisms of our current reality. Whitehead challenges our perceptions of our accepted reality as he argues that established views are not solely based on what we see with our eyes. This is a book with a seemingly simple premise about elevator manufacture and maintenance in a world so very similar (and familiar) to our own but instead what we get is a complex discussion of race and how we can (hopefully) rise above. 9/10

 

What's Up Next: The Read-Aloud Handbook (7th Edition) by Jim Trelease

 

What I'm Currently Reading: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-07-17 18:34
’Baby Teeth’ has a lot of bite and is not so sweet BUT it’s ‘un-put-down-able’
Baby Teeth - Zoje Stage

This amazingly creepy story from debut author Zoje Stage has got a lot of bite. The ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’ complex takes center stage as Hanna, a seven-year old (supposedly) mute girl plays nice-nice in her father Alex’s company, but when she is the company of her mother Suzette, she just about unleashes horns on her head and a devil’s tail.


I’m exaggerating a little bit: there are no supernatural horns or tails although it’s way to easy to imagine them on this devil child that Zoje has so well-written for this novel. And somehow Hanna only manages to talk, now suddenly in French, just in her mom’s company, never so her dad can hear.


For years, Suzette has had to sacrifice her career by staying at home to homeschool Hanna, as she has been thrown out of preschools for bizarre and nasty behavior, but it’s behavior that her parents felt she would grow out of, and that once she was school-age, she could be handled better by an elementary school. Suzette also struggles with Crohn’s disease, which often keeps her bedridden and very ill, but it’s something that Hanna only has so much patience for but luckily her husband Alex has been sensitive to over the years.
Hanna persists in showing only one side to her father, who is Swedish to a fault, following Swedish holidays and traditions, which is something Hanna loves, including the special names Alex gives her, like Lilla Gumman, and she delights in little things like jumping in this lap and bedtime stories, shows of affection she reserves only for her father.
Alex and Suzette have not ignored Hanna’s lack of speech and antisocial behavior over the years though; they’ve taken her to specialists and had tests done, MRIs and other scans but there are no medical reasons for these behaviors. The answers start to become clearer especially to Suzette, as the behaviors become more pronounced; she questions herself, her parenting, whether Hanna is possessed, but she starts to realize this is just Hanna.


Reading Hanna’s side of it (as the novel goes -effectively - back and forth between what is going on for Hanna and Suzette, as if they are making an argument for their case) is just so incredibly disturbing. As she makes ‘plans’ for things she is about to do, and as she reasons ‘why she should’ do things, you’re allowed to see inside a very sad and twisted mind. As the book progresses so does her negativity towards her mother, and her need to push her mom out of the way to get closer to her father becomes greater.


The methods she does it by made me literally gasp out loud and sent my own child running (with questions for me), so that’s a good sign for me when it comes to a book.
In terms of how Suzette and Alex were able to handle Hanna: I will say that if you’re not a parent, you may have the view that it would have been easy to think ‘call the police’, or do certain other drastic things at times, but once you’re a parent, your perspective changes. You try everything else first. You want to try and help your child and do what you can, or you don’t believe they’re doing these behaviors. Your love for your child makes you run through all other avenues of help first, or in Alex’s case, stay in denial or in oblivion.


For many readers, this book may have gone too far; I know of many reviewers who passed on it because of the subject material, and it wasn’t for them. But it was totally right for me. I had been waiting for a book to be this daring for a while, and if it turns some people away, then you’ve at least elicited a visceral reaction to your work, whatever it is. In this case, it was because it was something that was going to make them feel uncomfortable or scared. I’d read that some people also got the wrong idea about the book, that it contained sexual abuse: it’s a shame people jump to conclusions before they actually have any real information.
Even if I didn’t know that the author Zoje used to work in film (as I also did) I probably could’ve guessed, as this would hold up so incredibly well as a movie; I had so many scenes in my head when I was reading this! Pure magic for the camera. Especially with the right Hanna.
The characters were so fascinating, and well-written, and I loved all the little bits about Sweden, Zoje did a fine job making these characters unique, especially for a thriller in a crowded genre. But then again, the whole book is unique, right down to the crushed lollipop on the front of the book.


And since at the center of this book is the ‘Daddy’s Little Girl/Electra’ complex, I found this fascinating. I don’t think I’ve seen a book personally written about this to this degree. It made Alex so blind to his daughter’s behavior, although it also made me question whether the ending was realistic.
The ending did kind of peter out a bit but I was satisfied with it; overall the book was such a page-turner, and kept me so enthralled, it was thoroughly ‘unputdownable’. I want more of this from Zoje!


*Warning: it might make some people question whether they want a ‘Little Girl to spoil’ after reading.

**Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for my early copy! 

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review 2018-07-17 15:45
NYXIA UNLEASHED/Scott Reintgen
Nyxia Unleashed - Scott Reintgen

Getting to Eden brought Emmett and his crewmates one step closer to their promised fortune. But surviving Eden may be the biggest reward of all. Discover book two in the trilogy Marie Lu called, “a high-octance thriller.”
Emmett Atwater thought Babel’s game sounded easy. Get points. Get paid. Go home. But it didn’t take long for him to learn that Babel’s competition was full of broken promises, none darker or more damaging than the last one.
Now Emmett and the rest of the Genesis survivors must rally and forge their own path through a new world. Their mission from Babel is simple: extract nyxia, the most valuable material in the universe, and play nice with the indigenous Adamite population.
But Emmett and the others quickly realize they are caught between two powerful forces—Babel and the Adamites—with clashing desires. Will the Genesis team make it out alive before it’s too late?

 

UGH I'M SO UPSET WITH MYSELF FOR FINISHING THIS because it was SO EXCELLENT and I don't even know what to DO with the world now. (Maybe read my Backman? Okay, there are worse situations to be in.)

This was super delightfully pacey also. I have had zero free time to read because I've been hanging out with people and I think these people have become annoyed with me because they'll walk away for five seconds and come back and have me not talk to them because I'm suddenly absorbed in finding out if everyone's gonna die (LIFE LESSON: KEEP NYXIA IN YOUR SHOE. OKAY? Yes, I mean the book, what do you think I'm talking about?)

I do wish that I had reread the first before I had read this because I remembered adoring all the characters and... of course, I couldn't remember any of them. I enjoyed getting to know them all more, and characters like Isadora really brought some excitement, but I kind of want to take notes now for when I read book three. I didn't often forget that they were teenagers, which was nice--they're quirky and playful and resilient and I want to be friends with them all.

This didn't feel as much like ENDER'S GAME as a more sci-fi dystopian book--most of it takes place on the new planet and there's a lot of world building. I would have liked more, but what was there was very well thought out and intriguing. I want to learn more, and I loved all the culture and history built in.

Some plot points felt too well planned... but who'm I to criticise alien species for being smart?

The cliffhanger, while having significantly more on the line than the last, wasn't half as bad. Thank goodness. But I still want the final installment right now!

I'm reminded why I am going to shove my copy of NYXIA down everyone's throats because everyone needs to love this book.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Crown, this one was one of my most anticipated books of the year!

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review 2018-07-17 12:01
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight - Jennifer E. Smith

This is a nice little book that covers the space of a day. (American) heroine and (English) hero end up sitting together on a flight from the United States to England, both ducking across the pond for family events.

 

Heroine Hadley’s family was torn to pieces when her father fell in love with an Englishwoman and abandoned them, and now she’s expected to attend the London wedding. This story is as much about family as romance.

 

As for the romance, I think the author managed the culture clash aspects well, and didn’t push things too far over such a short timeframe.

 

A sweet little book overall, though I’m not sure the father deserved to be so easily forgiven!

Source: nataliaheaney.wordpress.com/2018/06/22/the-statistical-probability-of-love-at-first-sight-by-jennifer-e-smith
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review 2018-07-16 20:40
Tiny Infinities by J.H. Diehl
Tiny Infinities - J.H. Diehl Tiny Infinities - J.H. Diehl

Tiny Infinities by J.H. Diehl is a promising book about Alice, her troubled mother and her meeting an unusual new friend, Harriet. It's a middle-grade novel with unique observations about family relationships, friendship and Alice's determination to prove herself in all ways.

 

It's written for ages eight to twelve. I gave it five stars because it kept my full attention, start to finish.

 

"What I love most about backstroke is, it proves a person doesn't need to be looking straight ahead to know exactly where she's going."

 

The police left after Piper's parents claimed her from Alice's house. Her father was disgruntled. "He shut our front door, looking irritated and tired, as if he'd just put up with watching ten awful TV ads in a row, and now we were back to a show he didn't like anyway."

 

Alice met Harriet and was discussing how her parents met and she got her name from the dog. "But talking about Alice was like walking back over to that corner in my head and finding the box jammed full of mad, sad, and panic."

 

Alice's father is leaving. She is frustrated and upset. "Again the words came out madder than I expected, as if my voice had picked a mood without consulting me."

 

I received a complimentary Advanced Reader's Copy from Chronicle Books and NetGalley. That did not change my opinion for this review.

 

Link to purchase: https://www.amazon.com/Tiny-Infinities-J-H-Diehl/dp/1452163359

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