Tag Archives: Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Book Review: The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
October 2nd, 2018
288 Pages

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies—girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life. 

When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies’ one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.- Goodreads

Like all of April Genevieve Tucholke books, I get sucked in. Something about her writing style just gets me every time.

But like all of her books, by the halfway point and ending, I wonder why I do I keep doing this to myself. *sigh*

The idea of a all girl mercenary group wanting to create a name for themselves and wanting to live life on their terms is fantastic. What I was expecting was these bad ass girls, kicking ass in the most epic way possible because they are Mercies. They know how to kill and kill clean (if needed). But what I got was a lot of talking, a lot of internal thoughts and generally mixed emotions.

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa do not want to be Mercies anymore and after the death of their original leader, they make the decision to go for a big kill, get the reward and then go live their life as they please. My issue begins after they make this decision. Almost nothing happens. When they get to the grand mission, the author keeps you invested by dealing a predictable blow that actually didn’t change how I felt about Frey or the entire journey to get to the book.

The author decided to give some of everything as opposed to focusing on their main goal. To be free. Yes, it was mentioned every other paragraph but were they actually doing things to be free? No, they fighting for others for no money. Yes, this could be looked at as bumps on the road to get to the final goal but these bumps didn’t provide a bunch of substance when it boiled down to it. At the end of the book, did things change? Yes, a lot. But did it really matter? No. It did not matter at all and that was the frustrating part.

Throughout the novel there are things added to push it through. Every time, I wanted to put the book down, something comes along that stops Frey and her time and then I get sucked in. Yup. Because the author can build a world. She honestly should do a master class on it.

Overall, it wasn’t a terrible read. It was good but I genuinely have such an up and down relationship with this author that I can’t give this book more than 3. This book, although way better than Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, did not reach the expectation of crazy fights and girls taking what they want.

2.8 Pickles 

Book Review: Calvin by Martine Leavitt

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Published Nov. 17, 2015
181 Pages

As a child, Calvin felt an affinity with the comic book character from Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes.

He was born on the day the last strip was published; his grandpa left a stuffed tiger named Hobbes in his crib; and he even had a best friend named Susie. Then Calvin’s mom washed Hobbes to death, Susie grew up beautiful and stopped talking to him, and Calvin pretty much forgot about the strip—until now. Now he is seventeen years old and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Hobbes is back, as a delusion, and Calvin can’t control him. Calvin decides that Watterson is the key to everything—if he would just make one more comic strip, but without Hobbes, Calvin would be cured. Calvin and Susie (is she real?) and Hobbes (he can’t be real, can he?) set out on a dangerous trek across frozen Lake Erie to track down Watterson. – Goodreads

Calvin & Hobbes is one of my top comic strips next to Peanuts. It was one of those things, where I would read comic strips in the newspaper my parents would get sent to the house every week. Comic strips are very close to home to me and with this recent read, my love for physical newspapers coming to my door each week was renewed.

But to the story and my interest in it. Calvin is pretty much getting by in school and life, when one day he passes out in class. After some test and speaking with the doctor, he is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Because of the parallels of his life and the actual comic, he believes a new strip getting rid of his delusion would be the cure. So he goes on a mission.

I really liked the aspect of this book because it gives you the fantasy feel of it. The hero of the story goes on a grand journey of self-discovery, with deep thinking and emotional torment to become a better person. This is literally what he does but the author adds to much to the journey across Lake Erie, that although this book is realistic fiction, it gives you something a bit fanatical that pushes the book. This is the driving force in the book and as simple as it is, it worked perfectly.

But with that being said, my biggest issue with the book was the writing format as opposed to the style. There isn’t really a break, when someone begins speaking i.e. the book is formated like this

Susie: blah blah blah Calvin: blah blah blah

There is no breaks, so it looks like everything is just flowing together. Not the most terrible thing but it isn’t my prefered way to read. Another concern with the book, is nothing exactly happens. The journey is a hard one but not because there are a bunch of obstacles Susie and Calvin come across. You believe some things are coming because they do come across people but for the most part nothing happens. The journey although difficult due to the weather and yeah you know walking across ice, is more of a mental and emotional experience.

Overall, this was an interesting take. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a retelling but Calvin & Hobbes was the foundation. And although there was a bit of disappointment at the end of the book, this was a good filler in between reads.

3 Pickles 

Book Review: You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Published Sept. 12th 2017
320 Pages

Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story.

Tara’s family has just immigrated to New York from India via London. Her beauty draws everyone’s eyes, but she doesn’t let anyone truly see her.

Her younger sister, Sonia, is falling in love with a boy her mother can’t accept, cutting a deep wound in the Das family.

The daughter of a Bollywood star, Anna is both brilliant and shy, like the Bengal tigers she fights to protect.

Chantal is as fierce a dancer as she is a friend, student, and athlete. But will her wealthy new boyfriend be able to thrive in her shadow?

And Ranee, the center that binds them all together, is beginning to unravel.

As each Das woman decides which Bengali traditions to uphold in America and which to leave behind, one hard truth remains: some scars take generations to heal.- Goodreads

This was an interesting read for me. I wasn’t expecting much (tbh) and its not because of the author or the hype but a lot of contemporary books try so hard to reach someone that the flow and empathy to an issue is often is missed. In this read that wasn’t the case exactly.

It was written with care, respect and empathy towards several issues; colourism, stereotypes, family relationships, death, being bi-racial, racism and being an immigrant. A lot is going on and you have to pay attention to have a open heart in order to see the obvious as well as the underline. The author did a really good job to not over complicate things but to make it known that these issues are part of life and as easy as the author fit it in it is common in the lives of some people.

I really loved Tara and Sunny’s section of the book. Anna and Chantal come off more entitled then I would have liked but their lives is completely different from Tara and Sunny.

If you are expecting this book to be fast pace it really isn’t but you get wrapped into the lives of these girls and you come to live them, want to support them, relate and understand them. It is detailed without feeling like it is being dragged and it is complex without feeling as if the author is doing too much.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, the second half lost its spark for me but I liked how the author tied up loose ends.

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.