Posted in arc, reviews

The unseen by Roy Jacobsen

​The Unseen

By Roy Jacobsen, trans. Don Bartlett and Don Shaw

 

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This book has been shortlisted for the Man International Booker prize and was inspired by the time that the author spent on a small island;    

‘The novel was written on an island similar to Banøy off the northern Norwegian coast, where my family comes from, and where I partly grew up. I still spend three to four months a year in a house that I have built myself on this island, the best place for me to work, ever.’ http://themanbookerprize.com/news/unseen-interview

The same interview tells us that; 

‘The book is a modern portrait of a lifestyle that is long gone, a family living on a small island in the northern part of Norway, living on what they can catch and hunt and find in the sea. A gargantuesque drama – Man vs Nature – as seen through the eyes of a little girl coming of age who eventually – as her parents die – is obliged to take charge, become the master of the island, on whom everyone else depends.. ‘

This book traces the lives of an isolated family; their births, their marriages, their goals and ambitions, their individual achievements and tragedies, and their deaths. It traces their attempts to build new structures on their island, battling against nature and taking them generations to accomplish.

This book is an atmospheric look at  life on a small island and the people who live on it. It traces their struggles with the natural world. It explores the changes occurring in society, their effects on this family, their attempts to adapt and the things that they lose in their attempts to adapt. They fight to get a regular boat service to their island. They must pay the prize – a lighthouse which will destroy their isolated lives and turn  self sufficient individuals into tied, dependent, wage earners.
This is a quiet book about a quiet island.  It is slow paced, occasionally dragging, mirroring the often slow and boring life of the island.  If you like fast paced stories, filled with high stakes dramas, then this book is not for you.  However, if you like picturesque stories, set in rural settings, then you will like this book.

Posted in arc

​The Power of MeaningEmily Esfahani Smith

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

This book explores the things that make for a contented life; arguing that money and possessions don’t always make us feel happy. The author, utilizing personal experience and academic sources, argues that, in order to live a contented life, a person needs to live a fulfilled life connected to a close knit community. 

This book didn’t blow me away.  Much of the argument seemed obvious. But, it’s a pleasant read and could be a great primer for those new to the subject.

Posted in arc, Diversity, literature, reviews, world fiction

​Ida By Alison Evans

I was given this by by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Ida is a normal, unmotivated, individual who can time travel or that is what she believes.  She is in a relationship with a non binary artist.  She lives with her father and autistic relative and has no idea what to do with her life.  All she knows is that she can jump around in time. At first, she only uses that power in emergencies. But, then it becomes addictive. Then, Ida loses control of her powers,  having no control concerning when she jumps. The places where she lands get more surreal and frightening with each jump. Soon she discovers that there is more to her power than meets the eye. 
In many ways this book is nothing to write home about. It is a conventionally written speculative fiction work. However,  this book has a diverse range of characters and that is its major selling point. Both the autistic and non binary characters are fairly well drawn.  This book would make a great option for those wishing for a diverse YA/ spec read. 

Posted in arc, reviews

​Dreadnought April Daniels (penguin)

This book has been given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley. On the surface, Danny Tozer is a normal teenage boy, with two parents, who attends an average public school. However, first impressions often prove false.  Danny Tozer is unhappy. He hates; the sports that he is forced to play, the clothes that he is forced to wear, and he really hates his masculine body. He feels that he is in the wrong body.  They feel that they are truly female. They feel restricted by; society, their parents, school, and friends; and the way that these outside forces view  Danny’s identity. 
Then, one day they encounter the dying superhero, Dreadnought.  As he dies, dreadnought passes his powers to Danny Tozer. One of the advantages of Dreadnought’s superpowers is that the person who takes the power is given the body of their dreams. Normally, this means that male bodies become; more buff, more toned, and more masculine. Nevertheless, Danny Tozer desires a female body and that is exactly what they get.  
In fact,  Danny is the first woman to assume to the Dreadnought persona. The book sees her navigate her world in her new body. She must learn to be a super hero. She must find out how to live within a female body. Her attempts are inhibited by the hostile, confused reactions of the people surrounding her: she must deal with the confusion of; her parents, friends and her school.

This book is an exciting superhero story written in a modern manner. It includes a voice of a person whose voice often goes unheard, i.e a trans individual. Written by a writer who shares that identity. I highly recommend this work. 
    

Posted in reviews

​They can’t kill us all Wesley Lowery 

 I was given this book, by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.  Sometimes wishes come true. At the beginning of the year, I had placed this book on the list of my most anticipated reads. I was going to order a copy when the publisher emailed me; asking me if I wished to be sent a copy. Of course, I said ‘yes’.
I was really looking forward to reading this book and I was not disappointed. This book explores the events surrounding the ‘Black lives matter’ campaign, as seen by someone who was actually there. Lowery’s tale begins when he was sent to cover a single death of one man, at the hands of the police, and then continues to tell the story of a story that just kept growing, as more police shootings were brought to light
Lowery tells us how a single commission, a week’s work, would  lead to a grueling six month odyssey to capture the slaughter of black men and the campaign that sought to fight against the ever growing tide of deaths. On the way, he outlines: the actions of the police and their differing reactions to the ‘black lives matter campaign’; the individuals who made up that campaign and his role as a, Black African American, journalist covering this story.  
This book is an insider view of a very important story. It is a valuable contribution to an important debate. It is a must read for anyone wishing to understand today’s America.