Quick Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Quick Review is a semi-regular feature of ARCs I’m loving. You should keep your eyes out for these! 


Born a CrimeBorn a Crime by Trevor Noah

Noah’s perspective of growing up in South Africa during apartheid while being the son of a black woman and white man, while mixed with his trademark humor, was insightful and poignant. We in the US are often presented with what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has termed “the danger of the single story” where we are told history from the point of view of the oppressors and it was refreshing to see history from someone directly affected by the heinousness of the apartheid laws.

Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Format: Digital ARC from Edelweiss

Quick Review: Breathless by Beverly Jenkins

Quick Review is a semi-regular feature of ARCs I’m loving. You should keep your eyes out for these! 


BreathlessBreathless by Beverly Jenkins

Beverly Jenkins has done it again. She gave me a story that had layered characters, a wonderful plot and as an added bonus gave a history lesson that most of us didn’t learn in school regarding US history. I love that our hero fell in love first, no brooding for this guy and the heroine? She was the one who had to be convinced to leave her single state. The romance between the two equals steamy.

Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Format: Digital ARC from Edelweiss

Quick Review: Lady Claire Is All That by Maya Rodale

Quick Review is a semi-regular feature of ARCs I’m loving. You should keep your eyes out for these! 


Lady Claire Is All That (Keeping Up with the Cavendishes, #3)Lady Claire Is All That by Maya Rodale

I have been really enjoying the shenanigans of the Cavendishes and this foray into their world was no different. I love that Lady Claire is basically Ada Lovelace. I also love that the book takes place at the exact same time as the previous two books so we can see what the other characters have experienced of the shenanigans that have ensued.

 

Publication Date: December 27, 2016
Format: Digital ARC from Edelweiss

Quick Review: A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

Quick Review is a semi-regular feature of ARCs I’m loving. You should keep your eyes out for these! 


A Closed and Common OrbitA Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

I loved The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet so much. So I was a little wary (yet excited) for this installment. I say installment rather than sequel, because it felt more like a book that takes place in the world Chambers created than an actual continuation of the first book. I thought it was a great way to go. The theme of identity was well thought out and executed. I hope there will be more stories to follow.

Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Format: Digital ARC from Edelweiss

Quick Review: Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

I don’t usually do reviews, but I might be changing that and this was a great book to maybe start the trend. I’m not going to waste time with bad reviews, so I’ll be only posting the books I really loved. I read Difficult Women both as a print galley as well as in digital format. It’s out January 3rd! Go get it.

Difficult WomenDifficult Women by Roxane Gay

The women in Roxane Gay’s recent short story collection are indeed difficult women. They are real women. They are multidimensional and flawed. As usual, Gay is able to use her talent to give distinctive voices to each woman in their respective stories. Once again I’m floored by how visceral her writing is, in the best way possible. These short stories make you feel a barrage of emotions, from discomfort to grief, to pity, to empathy and everything in between.

 

Review at a Glance: The Woman Who Would Be King

Title: The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt
Author: Kara Cooney
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Source: LibraryThing

Let me say, Hatshepsut should have had Cleopatra’s publicist. She needs the press that Cleo has received throughout the years. Not to tear Cleopatra down at all. They both are deserving of the attention so Cleo should have shared. There is not nearly enough out there about Hatshepsut. I vaguely knew her as a ruler who had her statues and such destroyed by the pharaoh after her. No details of her rise to rule or her reign.

I have a keen interest in Ancient Egypt. I have been since 6th grade and reading The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw and learning the ways of the Egyptians.  I even went on to read McGraw’s other book on Egypt Mara, Daughter of the Nile. Through the years I have picked up a few Cleopatra historical fictions, glanced at a few non fiction books about the era, but somehow missed the deets on King Hatshepsut. Recently I did a little unintentional theme reading when I started a historical fiction about Cleopatra’s daughter then was recommended a book based on Hatshepsut Daughter of the Nile by Stephanie Thornton. After I finished that, I realized I’d had another series on my e-reader by L.M. Ironside that focused on Hatshepsut’s life before and even after her rule. Then The Woman Who Would Be King showed up on my radar. It was kismet.

In The Woman Who Would Be King Kara Cooney thoughtfully and meticulously lays out Hatshepsut’s life and even what happens after her unprecedented rule. I felt like Cooney did a masterful job of painting what life might have been like for not only Hatshepsut, but the people who would have been around her and their relationships with her. Hatshepsut is not portrayed as manipulative or as completely selfless, but as a human being who was ambitious and from all accounts a shrewd ruler who had her faults. It is too bad there was not a lot of diary writing back in those days. It seemed the Egyptians weren’t much for the drama parts of life because it would have been interesting to know more about not only her motivations, but also the motivations of the the people around her, like her steward, Senenmut; her daughter, Neferure; or her nephew Thutmose III. I usually consume non fiction as audiobooks and this one would have been perfect.

Review at a Glance: Lucky Us

I have had this one on my shelf for awhile so I’m really glad to be able to get to it. A story set in the World War II era, Iris and Eva are half-sisters who embark on a journey that doesn’t quite live up their dreams, but they make it work. It’s hard to write a synopsis without giving away spoilers so I’ll leave it at that. I loved the writing of this. By swapping between Eva’s narrative and letters written to her from the people around her, the story felt more evenly told since you  get more points of view. I have read other reviews of the ‘likeability’ of Iris and Eva. This tends mostly to come up when there are female protagonist and people act like the author wants you to always be friends or lovers with them. I never once worried if I liked the characters. I just kept wondering what shenanigans they would partake in(I do however, like a good shenanigan). So Bloom did her job for me. I was engaged. I wanted to see what would happen next. I was interested in these people’s relationships. How did they interact with one another? How did they resolve the decisions they made to themselves? Lucky Us isn’t a perfect book. I felt a little off with the pacing, but that could have been me. However, it’s very well written with lovely language and interesting characters.

 

*I received this ARC  from Library Thing as a part of their Early Reviewers program.

Review: The Book of Life

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3)

*This galley was provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Disclaimer: I probably am a little biased on this one, I have to admit. I adored the predecessors in the trilogy so I feel like I was already predisposed to enjoy it before I opened the book (figuratively of course…since this was in e-format, ha).

Also I’m trying hard not to give away huge plot points, but just in case, here is your SPOILERS AHEAD WARNING. I’m also going to assume you’ve read the first two books. If not…turn back now.

This is the final book in the All Souls Trilogy following the witch Diana Bishop and her now-husband, the vampire, Matthew Clairmont as they fight against old prejudices between their species, search for a book that might reveal untold secrets, find a serial killer/rapist vampire, and protect their unborn twins. This sounds like the recipe for too many tangled plots, but I think Harkness pulled it together nicely. The previous book had Diana and Matthew running around Elizabethan England as Diana learning how to be a witch. The Book of Life brought them back to modern times. I think Harkness treated the whole time travel aspect pretty well. I always joke in these books that once you accept that vampires or witches exist (in the story) then you have to open yourself up to more seemly impossible situations. Never once did the other characters disbelieve that Diana and Matthew were hanging out with Christopher Marlowe, however they did question how a witch and a vampire made babies (when a vampire and a witch love each other very much…).

One of my favorite things about this series is that while yes, at the beginning Matthew was one of those ALPHA males, which I think his reasons for being so are satisfactorily explained, he shows growth and gives Diana room to do what she does. Diana was so much better in the last two books than the first. She kind of was waspish in the first following that stuffy female academic trope, she’s also shown development into being an actual person showing a range of emotions.

I am not a science person, however I appreciated the plot dealing with Matthew and his merry group of researchers delving into the genetics of the ‘creatures’ of this universe. I also was interested in Diana delving into what went into the spell crafting.

The serial killer/rapist plot is tangled so I’ll say I liked how Harkness dealt with it without it getting neither lost in all the other more important plots, or letting it take over the same and turning this into a very different book.

 

I can’t come up with anything I didn’t like about the book except for the formatting that comes with reading a galley, but that’s expected and I obviously don’t count it against the book or the author. I said before that there was a lot going on in the book and I think that it was necessary to have the complications. The subplots all related to each other so it wasn’t forced. Harkness showed to have one problem like Diana and Mathew ignoring the covenant set down by their ruling body that states creatures are not to be in a relationship, there are repercussions of that. Same for once that rule is broken, and babies are made where it seemed impossible, there are repercussions of that. Like what are those babies? Witches? Vampires?  (Diana uses two combinations of the species which made me chuckle, but of course now I can’t find them). If they are vampires will they have Matthew’s bloodrage? Never once did I feel that a plot was forced or fluff. The villains aren’t stock and the heroes have flaws. It’s a great amount of fun and adventure.

I look forward to Harkness’s next endeavor even though we’re through with the the Bishop-Clairmont clan. I am a bit sad to be leaving them, but happy they get their ending.