Tag Archives: Contemporary

NetGalley Review: The Haters by Jesse Andrews

Amulet Books To Be Published April 2016
Amulet Books
To Be Published April 2016

Wes and his best friend Corey thought jazz camp would be the ultimate experience. But no. . , it turned out to be a lame waste of time and a sausage fest.

But that is until they hear a unusual sound coming from a girl named Ash. The duo instantly becomes a trio and for a while jazz camp is what Wes and Corey hoped it would be.

But Ash decides that jazz camp isn’t enough and decides they need to hit the road. Wes and Corey do not think twice before jumping into her SUV and embarking on “The Haters Summer of Hate Tour.”

I requested this because it was Jesse Andrews. I mean I haven’t read “Earl, Me and the Dying Girl” mainly because I don’t know if I should read the book and then see the movie or watch the movie and then read the book. But none the less, I picked up this book and for so much hype over the author, this was a disappointing and rather annoying read.

Andrews writing comes off like the Uncle that is trying to stay current; the Uncle that is trying to stay cool. It was too obvious in this book and he was trying way too hard. Granted this book is about Andrews own experiences in jazz camp, so it may have had happened exactly like this. But the way that the book is written it was reaching. I say this as an adult that reads a lot of YA books.

Oddly enough though I liked Corey. I believe I liked him much more than Wes because of his blunt no-nonsense attitude. Corey just didn’t care to waste time; if he wasn’t okay with something or someone than it would be known. I guess I respected him more for that. But I kind of got the feeling that Corey was written not exactly to balance out Wes’s personality but to also show a lack of class.

As much as I liked Corey he got annoying very fast just as much as Wes did. Ash wasn’t the best character either. I didn’t feel as if any of the character were actually themselves at any point. It felt like they were all posers and yes, I am aware this is a coming of age novel but I am really just pointing this out as I have this feeling throughout the entire book.

I did enjoy the flow of the novel, despite the huge issues I had. Ultimately I expected something so much greater from the author that almost everyone has been talking about.

1 Pickle

Book Review: Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale (Seasons of the Sword #1) by David Kudler

Stillpoint Digital Press To Be Published June 15, 2016 230 Pages
Stillpoint Digital Press
To Be Published June 15, 2016
230 Pages

Japan has been going through a century long civil war; destroying most of the beautiful land in death. Kano Murasaki also known as Risuko (Squirrel) just wants to climb and forget all that is around her. But as a the oldest daughter in a fatherless family that isn’t a easy feat.

When her mother sells her to a high ranking lady, Risuko feels abandoned but quickly finds herself as a much needed asset in the war between armies.

The cover alone promised a badass girl, with not only the physical skills but also mental skills. No. No. This book did not even deliver based off the summary but that is not to say it wasn’t a decent book.

The book is more for middle schoolers than actual YA. I say that because Risuko is about 12 and for the most part she act as such.  The lack of confidence and self-knowledge is evident from the beginning and the end of the book. This is a coming of age novel, which I don’t have an issue with; I simply feel mislead.

I didn’t like how the book centralizes about how Risuko loves to climb and yet for most of the book she spend most of her time in the kitchen. When she did climb, she either got caught sneaking or was taunted into doing it.  How can someone love something so much and practically stop doing it?

The book was slow and drawn out. The “action” was full of yawns and the ending was i.e. the big twist was un-fufilling and more of ‘I can not believe I read this book for that.’ Despite all of this, I give the author credit for dragging me in against my will. There were things I didn’t understand that I wanted to know more of. There are still things I don’t understand and I am not sure if they are even going to be addressed in the next book.

I wanted more from the book. More passion, action, climbing something other than the promise of something exciting. I felt that the author played it too safe with this book. I also felt that the author did not allow Risuko to have an actual personality. I cannot describe her even if you paid me to.

Overall, it was a decent intro to possibly a better story. I still recommend this read for middle schoolers not young adults or adults reading YA.

 

2 Pickles

NetGalley Review: The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth LaBan

Lake Union Publishing To Be Published Jan. 5, 2016
Lake Union Publishing
To Be Published Jan. 5, 2016

Lisa Soto has a master’s degree that she no longer uses. Married with a work obsessed husband, a little girl running around and a baby on the way, Lisa is contemplating how and why did her life end up this way.

Lisa’s husband Sam decides to move his family to Philadelphia, where he takes his job as a restaurant critic seriously. So seriously, he wants Lisa and their family to remain anonymous and have little or no interaction with their neighbors; leaving Lisa jumpy and alone. 

Needing some kind of adult interaction, Lisa wonders if she is losing her identity and begins questioning every decision she made including leaving her ex for Sam. 

I picked this book because I read LaBan’s YA book The Tragedy Paper (Click here for the review).  I enjoyed that book, so I decided I would give this a try.

This was a struggle read for me because Lisa is miserable for most of the book. I am aware that is the premise but it is really hard to read someone who is just plain unhappy all the time. Sam is inconsiderate and Lisa just allows him to be him. At one point you just wonder, when did she decide to just give up everything she even remotely wanted. She doesn’t even care about appearances. When Sam begins acting irrational in public she just sits there.

My issue with Lisa is she gives the impression that she just gave up on herself. I am sure plenty of women go through this but Lisa bugged me. Sam bugged.

In regards to writing style, I didn’t love the flashbacks. It was fitting for the novel, yes but I felt that it could have been cleaner and sharper. The transitions weren’t that great *shrugs*

I liked the book and I understand the lack of emotion within the characters but I cannot tell you how bad I wanted some kind of passion. Even when the flashbacks happen, there was no real emotion other than impulsiveness.

This book offered insight and it is extremely relate-able even if you aren’t married. But this was a hard read and I strongly believe more could have been done to this book.

 

2.8 Pickles

NetGalley Review: Hector and the Secrets of Love (Hector #2) by François Lelord

Penguin Books Published Jan. 1, 1900 288 Pages
Penguin Books
Published Jan. 1, 1900
288 Pages

If you haven’t read the first book Hector and the Search for Happiness, go read the book. I read it some time ago and completely fell for it. Maybe I’ll do a review on it????? Anyway there is also a movie, which was really good.

Hector has been given the opportunity to help research love. What makes love? What breaks love? What’s true love? Within his research he is told to track down a doctor, who was developing a drug that makes people fall in love with each other on different levels. 

His search takes French psychologist Hector to parts of Asia that in his previous journey he has never been. But mentally and emotionally, Hector goes on a journey that he could have never prepared for.

This novel was a bit more fast paced that the second one. But it still held the same thoughtful questions and passionate emotions just like the first one. What I liked about this book was how human Hector was. He was/is (how ever you look at it) conflicted with not just love but with understanding people and their needs. But most importantly understanding himself. He was just a very confused man and it made me think of what I was always told about psychologist “In order for them to help people with such mental issues, they need to be a bit crazy themselves.”

Hector doesn’t know what to do, even when given solutions, even when the answer is obvious, he just doesn’t do anything. It makes for a very complicated but interesting story. I couldn’t stand Clara, who is extremely selfish, EXTREMELY SELFISH. Every time she came on the page I rolled my eyes. I was done with her.

I also, towards the middle and end of the book, felt some type of way about Hector; he was selfish too but in a different way from Clara. Without getting too much into detail, I don’t feel that he uses a (the woman not Clara) woman but he also didn’t change the situation either.

The pace of the novel was great once it got going. It took a little bit but I wasn’t unhappy when it started moving better. Although this book was originally (so it says per good reads) published in 1900 a lot of what is in the book hit home to modern times.

I hated the ending. It could have been better. It was sloppy and it was obvious the author didn’t want to write anymore.

Overall,

3.5 Pickles

 

NetGalley Review: Nagasaki by Éric Faye

Gallic Books  Published 2010 112 Pages
Gallic Books
Published 2010
112 Pages

Meteorologist Shimura Kobo lives alone and has for years. Everything has its place and order. Kobo doesn’t want it any way.

But when he notices that food is going missing, he sets up a webcam in his home to find the thief. But by doing this what will happen to his life once he discovers the truth? Kobo soon learns you can’t go back after certain decisions in life. 

*Short Review*

When I read the summary to this book I was expecting some huge turn of events that dramatically changes Kobo’s life. Finding out the truth about the intruder in his home was life changing for Kobo but not as spectacular as the summary appeared it to be.

Kobo’s life is as simple as it can get: work, grocery store and the home. He lives alone, doesn’t have any friends, rarely interacts with his coworkers and doesn’t really care to change the situation he is in. When he notices that someone has been in his house, he becomes obsessed with finding out who the person is and when he finds out who the person is, he becomes obsessed with how he has been living his life.

This isn’t an issue with this book. My issue with this book was the lack of passion, the lack of conversation and the lack of some kind of solution. I am aware that this book is based on true events and I am also aware that some people live their lives like this but I wanted more emotion and there was none to be found other than pity for Kobo.

Overall, as quick of a read this was, reading it has done nothing to shape my life in anyway. I loved the idea of the story but I was hoping for more after the thief was found.

2 Pickles

Book Review: All the Beautiful Brides (Graveyard Falls #1) by Rita Herron

Montlake Romance Published Sept. 15, 2015 341 Pages
Montlake Romance
Published Sept. 15, 2015
341 Pages

FBI Special Agent Cal Coulter has been sent to Graveyard Falls after a woman is found with a rose stuffed down her throat in a wedding dress at the bottom of a waterfall. This murder resembles the series of murders 30 years ago but a high school jock was convicted and sent to jail. 

Did they get the wrong guy? Or is there a copycat? When the killer sets his eyes on Mona Monroe, the love of Cal’s life and his best friend’s wife, Cal will have to act fast before its too late.

I really enjoyed this book but the author was doing too much.

From the moment I started the book I was sucked in. The details, the suspension was perfect until a little half way through the book.

I liked Cal. I felt that he did his job for the immediate issue. But he lacked in depth. I wanted to know more about his past and not just why he didn’t make a move on Mona. Although I liked him as a FBI agent I cannot say I liked him as a person because there was really nothing there that really highlighted his personality or who he really was beyond the case. Yes, you saw pieces of his past but they weren’t his own and they were PIECES!

I didn’t like Mona. She was very one dimensional, she had no personality and she was boring. *Kayne Shrug*

Herron took more care in developing the killer than her other characters. It was exactly what I wanted but I wish it done for all characters and not just one.

My biggest issue with this book started halfway through. Herron was doing too much by making sure everyone was connected to this one person. I understand small towns and how they work, especially within a novel, however it was too much. Way too much. It made the book less authentic.

But none the less I enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to book two.

3 Pickles

 

NetGalley Review: Another Day (Everyday # 2) by David Levithan

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers To Be Published Aug. 25, 2015 300 Pages
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
To Be Published Aug. 25, 2015
300 Pages

Rhiannon lives the same life everyday. She has accepted the fact that she doesn’t deserve more from her distant boyfriend Justin or even her family. 

But one morning, Justin sees Rhiannon as if she is new, beautiful and for the first time she feels loved and has the perfect day with him. However, come the next morning Justin doesn’t remember a thing. Desperate for that feeling again, Rhiannon begins questioning not only Justin but the life she has been living. 

Finally her answers come in the least expected way, when a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with wasn’t Justin at all.

The thing about reading book two of this series is almost nothing new was presented. It really is the same story told through Rhiannon which means the same story with her emotional conflict that was more than obvious in the first book.

The thing about Rhiannon is she is unhappy with her life and has been for a while. I also go the impression that she is simply scared to be alone. Justin brings nothing to the table. He doesn’t even like the fact that she wants to hold his hand in public. His distance and Rhiannon’s acceptance makes it seem as if there is something emotionally wrong with Rhiannon.

What I liked about the book was how easy it flowed from the first book. Levithan doesn’t miss a beat and I really enjoyed that. I loved the pace of the novel and how Levithan doesn’t over saturate the novel of romance or a unrequited love. But the novel is a sad read . . . even with happier moments, Rhiannon is a sad individual that is trying to get out of it, so it makes it a bit of a slow read.

Overall, I did like this book. It reminded me of why I love Levithan as an author and why I enjoyed the first book.

3 Pickles

 

Quick Five© with Tendai Huchu

Courtesy of Tendai Huchu
      Courtesy of Tendai Huchu

 

Name: Tendai Huchu

Twitter: @TendaiHuchu

Website: http://www.tendaihuchu.com

Books: The Hairdresser of Harare & The Maestro, The Magistrate and The Mathematician 

Buy: Amazon & Barnes and Noble  

Reading books written by men is a completely different experience from reading a book written by a women. Not to say that one is greater than the other but reading books by the opposite sex is an experience in its own.

I love when I have the opportunity to interview male authors. So I welcome all my readers to this wonderful interview with Tendai Huchu; an author who writes easily through his heart.

Enjoy.

What inspired your first novel “The Hairdresser of Harare”?

Weaver Press Published Oct. 12, 2010 190 Pages
                Weaver Press
       Published Oct. 12, 2010
                  190 Pages

I can probably better describe the process of writing the book than pinpoint the “inspiration”. It was Christmas day 2009 and I was at a friend’s place, sponging a free meal, when I heard Vimbai’s voice in my head. I borrowed her laptop and began banging away – fourteen days later, red-eyed, weary and under threat of eviction from her couch, I emerged with the first draft. It was a spontaneous event.

Why did you feel you needed to write this book? Was it because the story was missing in the world of literature or because you had a need to let it out?

I am sure some would argue that writers all circle the same few universal themes so there is nothing really missing in the WoL. Part of me thinks the reason I do this is the same reason dogs pee on lampposts, I just can’t help it.

Do you feel that it is more pressure on you as a writer for accuracy to write about a female main character? If so, why? If not, why not?

   Amabooks Publishers    Published Dec. 1, 2014               284 Pages
Amabooks Publishers
Published Dec. 1, 2014
284 Pages

I had a crutch when I wrote the story. I used Sarah Ladipo-Manyika’s wonderful book In Dependence as my metronome, so I would write a chapter of my book, read a chapter of her’s and alternate all the way through, that way she tempered my voice. Luckily, we have become friends and Sarah has not sued me, yet. I am very aware that I don’t do female characters well (like most male writers) but the solution isn’t to write navel gazing Bro Lit.  Instead one should read more female authors, try to figure out what they are doing, and you really are spoilt for choice there, then maybe compare that to some of the crap male authors are writing and figure out what the potential pitfalls are. I can’t say I felt pressure, but I am very aware that if your characters are not believable, if they lack a soul, then the whole project collapses, so it was essential to get Vimbai right. Luckily, I also had a female editor, so that second pair of eyes caught some of my errors and helped me iron them out.

As an author of color do you feel it is your duty to write diverse books? Specifically to have main characters who are non-white?

I’m Zimbabwean, and within that literary tradition, this question doesn’t even factor. Small as it may be, our canon is mostly of books by black writers writing about black experiences and characters.   However I live in Scotland now and am aware that there is a lack of representation in this society (across many different media) of non-white characters, which is not healthy for art and society at large. This opens up a very interesting and rewarding space for writers to mine and I think, to an extent, this is happening today. I don’t think one can approach this ideologically as a “duty”, rather it is an organic and necessary exploration of our common humanity, which literature as an art form does so well.

Finally, how would you describe your success? What makes you feel that your books are a success?

I wouldn’t describe myself as particularly successful. What drives me on is the hope that if I work just a little bit harder, study the craft with a little more diligence, then maybe one day I will become a better writer. Perhaps this is beyond me, I don’t know, but it is that hope that keeps me going. I’m not sure what matrix one can use to gauge success in literature – sales, critical acclaim, longevity? – but my job is to wake up each morning, stare at the white blank page and shed blood on it. Outside of that, nothing else really matters.

 

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Book Review: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

Nancy Paulsen Books Published March 24, 2015 304 Pages
Nancy Paulsen Books
Published March 24, 2015
304 Pages

Naila’s parents are conservative immigrants that believe in keeping their culture alive even though they live in America. Naila is allowed to go to school and choose her career but she isn’t allowed to choose her husband . . . dating is forbidden.

When her parents catch Naila with her boyfriend, Saif, they whisk her away to Pakistan to explore her roots. But things quickly change when Naila’s parents state they have found her a husband and she is to be married immediately.

Desperate to get out of this situation but unsure how since she is cut off of everyone she loves, her only hope is Saif and if he could find her.

Sidenote: It is hard for me to read realistic books.  I read them because it shows me something different about the world I live in.  But man, it is hard. *Short Review*

Now to the book.

I like how the book gets right into it. There isn’t a lot of fluff in regards to Naila’s situation with her family and her romantic relationship. Saif isn’t just a new boy in school Naila falls in love with instantly; they have history and they have been together for at least a year at this point and Naila knows as well as Saif what could happen if her parent’s found out.

The book was written well with a nice even pace. Naila is betrayed by her parents and family not betrayed by her lack of strength or back bone. Naila is respectful and she has a very simple personality that just makes you want to hug her. It was so hard to read this and know that Naila’s story could be or is someone’s true story.

Naila was the reason I kept reading this book because I loved her. But that is not because it was a bad book. The author created such an amazing mental picture, so detailed and with a lot of care. When Naila hurt . . . you hurt.

Because of the nature of this book, it had a simple pace that didn’t leave you so hung up on something missing. For the most part everything was straight forward but it didn’t leave any predictability.

If you are into realistic and emotional fiction then this is for you.

3 Pickles

 

 

Book Review: My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt

     Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)   Published Sept. 4, 2012           256 Pages
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Published Sept. 4, 2012
256 Pages

I don’t usually read realistic fiction but I made a promise to review more of these genres.

16 year old Angel meets Call at the mall when he sees her shop lifting. Instead of turning her in he buys her food and tells her he loves her. After some time he offers her candy (drugs) and Angel no longer thinks about her mother who died and pretty soon she is addicted.

Kicked out her house, Angel moves in with Call and begins working on the corner to receive more candy. When her friend Serena disappears and Call brings in a new girl, Angel decides a stand must be taken.

This book is told in verse so it was a fairly quick read but that doesn’t mean it was any less emotional. But because this book is still a fiction novel I have to judge it as such and state what I felt was wrong with it.  I felt that there should have been more detail as into why Angel began stealing. I understand her mother passed away but did she have friends?  If not, why? How close was she to her mother? We obviously know she wasn’t close to her father but was she no old enough to not take drugs? She is 16.

I am not stating that it cannot happen it just didn’t seem realistic to me that is all. Also when Angel spoke it was if she never went to school a day in her life. As if she was always living on the street.

What I enjoyed about the book was the emotions. You felt Angel’s pain, and confusion. It was powerful. Do I think it would have better if the book wasn’t written in verse? No, I think if it was written as a typical novel the author would have to stretch Angel’s before and after story.

Overall, I thought the book was a good scared straight tactic which I am assuming was the point of the story. I give it an 8 out of 10. I needed a bigger reason for why a 16 year old girl made the decision she made.

Pickles