Category Archives: Book Reviews

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi – Book Review

Once, there was magic but it was destroyed and most of the maji were killed by the king. The kingdom rules with oppression, raising taxes and enslaving those who cannot pay them. Now, Ziele, a young girl whose mother was murdered and who has maji in her, has the chance to bring back magic. It’s a journey that she doesn’t know if she can complete, but she has her brother and various other folks along the way to help her.

I love a good YA dystopian fantasy. It’s an adventure and it’s urgent and exciting. There were several parts in it where I became cross because surely, if you’re on such an important path, don’t get distracted. It’s too important. This is not a time to stop, it’s not a time to celebrate, it’s not a time to fall in love. Get your job done! Still, regardless of these flaws, I was really into the story and the world. I am looking forward to the sequels and I can see this being told onscreen, either as a film or TV series.

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Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay – Audio Book Review

Roxane Gay has been appearing in my media consumption regularly over the years, and I so often find myself making noises of agreement, or anger, or frustration. She writes hard stuff, and funny stuff, and truthful stuff. Finally, I decided it was time to read Bad Feminist (and it was partly inspired by a recent tweet by Gay suggesting that a lot of women really needed to revisit it).

There’s so much to it. Personal essays about her life, some of which were hilarious, some of which were heartbreaking. Reviews of films and books, reviews which really get stuck into the often-problematic nature of our entertainment. I was disappointed when I first started to listen to it to discover that it wasn’t being read by Gay, and every so often it felt a little not quite right, but I can’t put my finger on what it was. The other thing is, because it was published in 2014, there are so many things that are so much worse. At times, driving in my car, I’d be talking back say “oh, you think that’s bad… just wait a few years. We’re not at rock bottom yet!”

 

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Adam by Ariel Schrag – Book Review *spoiler alert*

Adam is a teenager who’s finding life and friendship hard, so when the chance comes to spend summer with his older sister in New York, he jumps at the chance. His sister is gay and Adam is introduced to the world of Queer Culture, learning about pronouns and gender identity and so many new things. And then he falls in love, only Gillian thinks he is a trans boy and he can’t bring himself to tell her the truth and lose her. But it’s only a matter of time.

Oh, I had issues with this book. There were things that worked really well, like pretty clear explanations of terms that many folks are only just learning about and getting used to. And then, oh dear. Yes, I got that Adam was struggling with self-esteem, but his betrayal smacked of a man taking advantage of a woman. This, I could have dealt with if he got his comeuppance. But no, when the truth comes out, there are no consequences for him. In fact, he got the girl. It was not only a let down, it very much read as if it didn’t even matter. Sure, straight, white man. Come into a space which isn’t yours, learn some stuff, and then treat everyone like crap. No-one’s going to hold you to account. You can just walk away. It was such a disappointing cop-out. What’s more, because it was told from his point of view, the reader knows that he knows what he is doing is wrong. It seems, months after I read this, that I’m still really cross. I guess I just expect better.

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Lincoln in the Bardo by George Sanders – Book Review and Audio Book Review

Abraham Lincoln’s young son passed away while he was president, and he spent time in the mausoleum with the body, a very unusual thing to do during this time. There was documentation of Lincoln, of his life and behaviour, and on the death of his son, but apparently much was conflicting. Sanders has fashioned part of this book from quotes from these accounts, and then has created a mystical world full of the dead who have not yes passed to the afterlife.

In this way, it’s a hard book to explain, but as with much of Sanders’ writing, it’s poetic and mysterious and totally wonderful. When I read this, I started a couple of times, but kept putting it down until I could really dedicate time to reading it, because it took me a bit to get into the style. And then I just fell into it and loved it. Sometimes, I didn’t quite get what was happening, and some parts I still didn’t really get until I heard it on the audio book.

If you’re contemplating this book, I would highly recommend the audio book. The cast is amazing  (David Sedaris, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, Rainn Wilson, Susan Sarandon and the list goes on) and the way it has been produced works so well with the text.

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Never Go Back by Lee Child – Book Review

Finally, after several books, Reacher has made it to Virginia to meet Major Susan Turner, the voice on the other end of the line, only to discover that she’s been arrested and, to him, it all seems very suss. Then he’s informed that he is under investigation on two counts, one which is a lawsuit from a woman claiming that he is the father of her daughter. He could walk away from Susan and the investigations would disappear, but that’s not Reacher’s way.

This is the book that forms the basis of the second Reacher film starring Tom Cruise. As such, reading the book, I kept thinking I knew what was coming, but the film is quite different to the book. Having seen the film really ruined the book for me, which is a shame. Still, there are a whole heap more Reacher books that I’ll be able to enjoy that haven’t been ruined…

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A Wanted Man by Lee Child – Book Review

After his last adventures, Jack Reacher finally is on his way to Virginia to meet the woman who had helped him several books back. On the way, he is picked up while hitchhiking by an odd trio – three supposed work colleagues. He figures out that things are not as they seem, and meanwhile local and federal authorities are trying to solve a murder in a small town.

It’s implausible and ridiculous, but I love the way that Jack Reacher can work pretty much everything out in his head due to his knowledge about everything. He can work out that a bad guy is heading to a particular city because if you are on this road and you have this much fuel and you want to avoid this and make that, it’s the only place you can go. Or a whole thing about blinking and head nods and morse code and, look, it’s totally nuts and I’m totally buying it. I think this was one of my all-time Jack Reacher faves.

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The Affair by Lee Child – Book Review

We go back in time a bit from the last book, back to when Reacher was still in service and was sent to investigate a murder near a military base. Only, not really sent to investigate – politics and power, Reacher thinks he’s there for more of a cover up. But that’s not how Reacher works, especially when he discovers that there is not one dead woman, but three. And they all appear connected.

I kept feeling like Reacher was doing the wrong thing – and I liked it. He was not taking advice, he was walking into dangerous situations and getting into trouble. And, of course, he came out on top. Go Reacher.

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