Posted in arc, reviews

Wolf Nation Brenda Peterson

wolfnationcover

The publisher kindly gave me this book in exchange for an honest review.  This book begins with the author giving us a glimpse of her childhood, outlining how she was brought up in a rural family and taught to respect, love, and protect all of nature.  That ideal shines through this work.  It’s basically about how humans and animals, in this case Wolves, interact.  It’s about our relationship with nature.

 

It explores the various mythologies, both; negative and positive, that surround the Wolf.  The author deconstructs historical, and present day stories, explaining how these narratives have shaped our relationships with the Wolf. The author explores the way that ‘western man’ has sought to domesticate and tame nature; both, in their European homeland and those countries that they went onto colonialise. She argues that modern ‘mans’ attempts to dominate and domesticate nature have affected those creatures, like the wolf, who continually oppose ‘mans’ domination. She looks at the horrendous treatment that humans have meted out to Wolves, outlining the way that Wolves have; been hunted to near extinction, poisoned, and exterminated.   She explores the hostility some people feel towards wolves and their advocates.

 

She narrates the alternative, more positive ways to view the wolves.    Peterson looks at the programs put in place, throughout America with the sole aim of bringing these animals back to the places they belong.  We get a glimpse of the lives of the people and animals who are living/working to change humanities perception of wolves and their role in our world.

 

The author looks at the way that the reintroduction of wolves to their natural habitats has had a positive effect on those spaces and the beings that inhabit them.  However, she then argues that studies have shown that it is not enough to reintroduce one, land mark, species.   If you want a thriving natural world, all species, both large and small, must be allowed to play their part.

 

Peters makes a strong case of how engaging with, and learning from, nature can have a positive effect on our physical and psychological wellbeing, giving examples of the individuals, from school children to troubled adults, who have sought nature and the positive benefits that these encounters have brought them.  She makes a strong narrative case of the interdependence of all living things, arguing how one species controls and supports others. She explains how we all play a role in protecting the world in which we live and the natural settings that surround us, arguing that no species can be eliminated without series consequences to other aspects of nature.   This book makes the reader have all the feels and It’s a must read.

 

 

 

 

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, 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.

Posted in arc, books, reviews

Bear and Nightingale by Katherine Arden

 

 

I was given this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.    A family grows in rural Russia.  Their lives are in constant struggle with the natural world which is beyond their control.  They find comfort in a mixture of old ‘pagan’ beliefs and the newer beliefs of the Christian church.   A young woman fights outside pressures to find a path in an ever-changing world.    This world is made up of Vasilisa and her family.  Vasilisa is a young girl who loves folk tales and lives one. Her empathy with the natural and spiritual world makes her the apex of the conflict between old and new beliefs. This book shares the Fairy-tale feel of Catherynne M. Valente’s Deathless and the Brothers Karamazov’s (by Dostoyevsky) questioning of spirituality, magic, and religion.  I highly recommend this book.

 

Posted in award lists, awards, reviews, Uncategorized

Railhead by Philip Reeve Review

Railhead

Philip Reeve

railheadsmall

 

In my last review, I mentioned that one of the positive things about reading the award shortlists was that they encouraged you to read outside of your comfort zone. This is definitely true in the case of the Locus Recommended Reading list.  This is the second book that I would never have read if I hadn’t been reading that list.  I don’t generally read Children’s fiction or YA.  This is especially true if I haven’t heard of the author, or if the author hasn’t written an adult novel.  I would have never read this book. I would have missed out on an extremely enjoyable read.

 

Zen Starling is a Railhead who travels on world crossing trains and steals to survive.  He lives with his sister and disturbed mother in a deprived area of the city. One day when he is carrying out a theft at a high end Jewellers, he finds that he is being followed by a young girl and shadowy older figure. He dodges, trying to avoid them both but is eventually caught by one and rescued by another. I won’t say much more because I then get into spoiler territory and I want you to read this book.

 

This book has all my favourite elements. The work centres on the lives of Railheads that travel these trains often conducting low level crime to survive. It has sentient trains that cross worlds who help those for who they feel sorry and act as graffiti curators keeping the art work that they like while destroying the rest.  It has androids, hive minds made out of bugs, and a shadowy government. What’s more it’s set in a really interesting urban, almost cyberpunk landscape. It deals with the discrepancy between the worlds of rich and poor.  It looks at identity, asking what does it mean to be me and can we ever become someone else.  It asks the questions ‘what does it mean to be human’ and who can we really trust?

 

This book was a really fun, well written read.  It will engross you from the first to last page. The characters are, at once, likeable and nuanced.  The world is wonderfully drawn. For me, it was a five star read.  It’s too early to say yet but I am betting that it will be one of my favourite books of 2016.