I have been following Jael Richardson on Twitter for long, and I’m also on her mailing list as she runs the Festival Of Literary Diversity, FOLD, and I was so thrilled to learn she is publishing her first novel. Titled Gutter Child, I went on to order this book on Amazon, and have already begun to read it although I’m not going as fast with it as I might have wanted.
Its major theme is race in a dystopian era, where the country—possibly the US or Canada—is divided into two, the Mainland for the over-privileged majority and the Gutter, for the oppressed minority. We follow our M/C Elimina Dubois, a fourteen-year-old child of the Gutter as she enters into a school on the Mainland, and the earliest vibe I got is that it might be brutal for her there.
The book is certainly promising to be a thought provoking read, but what got me into buying it at first is that it’s from a diverse author, one who literally has been left, right and center of the Canadian publishing scene fighting for diverse voices to be heard. For all this brief is worth though, I haven’t gone too far into the story for me to be able to say how great or how bad the book is but I guess we will see.
How about you, what are you currently reading?
Like those who know me well do, I’m not usually drawn to contemporary YA novels, especially of the romance variety, but I just got drawn to this debut from Emma Lord as it was all over Tweeter and that got me wondering. Well, I then picked it up to see what all the noise was about, and got myself very surprised to find that this book is actually quite entertaining. Although the story-line is not exactly outrageously unique, for after all, the story is based on a social media war—of which there’s been quite a smattering of those lately—I found this book to be quite cute and humorous. At the center of it is Pepper Evans, a teenaged perfectionist and daughter of owners of a fast-growing burger chain, and Jack, her classmate, an underrated boy who for most of his life has lived under the shadow of his more popular twin brother.
The two are unwittingly drawn into a Tweeter battle when they take sides in a war of words between their parents’ businesses, the inciting incident being the supposed or actual theft of a grilled cheeseburger recipe by Big League Burgers, on Pepper’s side, belonging to Jack’s grandma. While this warfare is raging on the internet, a romance is developing between Pepper and Jack. A sprinkle of supporting characters add sizzle to this conflict-filled story and you’ll love to see how siblings add unusual twists to this entertaining piece.
Emma’s writing is modern and refreshing and the snarky Tweets she cooked up between her protagonists are quite hilarious. I have already given this book four stars on Goodreads, even though I have yet to finish it.
I have never participated in this weekly feature before, but after noticing several bloggers take part, I thought to give it a go. The feature, hosted by @Wandering Words, revolves around giving away only the first few lines of a novel and then letting readers guess the title, plus of course the author. The little game, I suppose, is most relevant to those readers who read a lot among several genres, and it tests their ability to remember the first chapter of their past reads.
That said, here goes mine for this week.
WHEN WE GOT THE LETTER in the post, my mother was ecstatic. She had already decided that all our problems were solved, gone forever. The big hitch in her brilliant plan was me. I didn’t think I was a particularly disobedient daughter, but this was where I drew the line.
I didn’t want to be royalty. And I didn’t want to be a One…
The answer is THE SELECTION by Kierra Cass,
A novel I read only last week and found it quite entertaining even though the prose wasn’t as polished. A full review is on it’s way. Just watch this space.
I’m glad to say it’s my first time to participate in this amazing feature, and I probably will continue to do so—because we all love old things, don’t we?
Let me kick off this week with The Death Cure, by James Dashner, the third installment in his amazing Maze Runner series
I have been meaning to read this final book of the Maze Runner saga for years but then never had the time for it, as I got swamped in other things. But now that I have gotten to, I am getting mixed feelings. I loved the first two books but that was years ago even before the movies came out, but now I’m sad to say the third one isn’t living up to the hype.
The Death Cure starts with the M/C Thomas holed up in some prison-like white room, trying to recall the events that led him to be there. The cure for the Flare, the deadly virus that leads to all the experimenting with humans that’s the subject of this novel series, is yet to be found, but Thomas is told by his informer that salvation is near, and what’s left is just a little more simulation and then the ordeal will be over.
A novel in which terrible things are done to children for the sake of saving the greater society might make for an engaging read, but I think by the time the story gets to The Death Cure the power of this plot gimmick has waned considerably. I found it difficult to stay interested in what WICKED was trying to achieve, or feel any connection with what the main characters were striving for.
James Dashner is a great writer however, and his prose is up there with the very best and even though I wasn’t too taken with this one, I will always seriously consider any new works he may publish.
It hasn’t been my practice to say something about a book before I finish reading it, but here is a brief review of The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead, a historical romance and adventure novel that has won quite some readership in the almost four years since it’s been published. It’s sold as fantasy but I insist it’s a historical romance.
The story concerns a lead character named Adelaide, a countess of Osfrid whose family has lost its fortune and she is in danger of leading an impoverished lifestyle unless she can marry well. In the novel’s beginning, Adelaide—apparently not her real name—has an arranged marriage hanging over her head, but before this is consummated, she must make a daring escape to join the Glittering Court, a finishing school for poor uneducated girls seeking to find husbands among successful men abroad. That’s how Adelaide ends up being shown off to potential suitors whom she has zero interest in—while her heart surprisingly is with someone who has always been very close by.
Gosh, I must say I am finding this quite a compelling read and will most likely continue with the series. Mead paints a picture of a highborn girl who has had a bit of misfortune but never gives up the fight to make things go her way rather than simply resign to fate. I am invested not only in the story of Adelaide but also of the other girls who are struggling for a better life alongside her. I already gave the book four stars on Goodreads and that’s not likely to change.
The fever has begun to build in advance of the anticipated release of this prequel to the Hunger Games in May this year. Suzanne Collins returns to the world of Panem to chronicle the events of the 10th edition of the games, which happen at least 64 years before Katniss’s. The M/C of this divisive prequel is Coriolanus Snow himself, the much hated villain of the Hunger Games books. Snow—probably having emerged winner the previous year, although there is no details of this yet—is now up to mentoring other contestants, specifically a girl from District 12. Do you like the idea—Suzanne hopes you do.
The general feeling among early reviewers though, at least according to what I have glimpsed, is that fans are not impressed by this choice of lead, and I tend to agree with them. Taking such a dastard human rights abuser like Snow and making him into a lovable hero has to be one of the most ludicrous decisions in the history of novel writing or in this case prequel writing. Coriolanus dies a defeated man at the end of the main series, and there is not an ounce of sympathy anyone felt for him. Suzanne should have left him dead and buried and not try to resurrect him while giving him a veneer of respectability.
I haven’t read an actual copy of this myself, but dare I say it will take a lot of deft maneuvering to pull of a twist like this. Otherwise the whole thing is going to fall flat and seem just a pointless, if not actually a very greedy money-grab. Not that it’s bad for authors to profit from their works, but fans deserve a decent, well-conceived product.
Now how about you guys, what do you think? Are you impressed by this latest effort of Collins and her publishers? Are you going to rush to stores when the book finally comes out in May? Me, uh, I’ll just wait and see.
This little darling of a book, like usual, wasn’t recommended to me by anyone as I am not into the habit of asking for recs. I am pretty satisfied with the way I discover new authors and that’s to scour the internet looking for books similar to what I have previously enjoyed. Which is how I ended up stumbling on Clare Vanderpool’s Moon Over Manifest.
Clare is actually an award winning author and it kind of surprised me that I had never heard of her, which goes to show how hard it is for even good authors to get meaningful publicity these days.
Moon Over Manifest is a crossover YA novel narrated mainly through the eyes of twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker, who has been sent by her father to Manifest, a Kansas town, to live with an old buddy of his. While there, Abilene discovers a treasure trove of cryptic notes and mementos, which lead her on a chase to discover the real identity of the Rattler, a supposed first-world-war spy.
Several other points of view in addition to Abilene’s are used, and the book switches between scenes taking place in the war years 1917-18 and the book’s present, 1937.
My review: I gave this novel five stars on Goodreads. Abilene, young as she is, is a compelling and sympathetic narrator who does things very few other kids of her age would. Together with her sidekicks, Lettie and Ruthanne whom she has just befriended, she ends up solving an age old mystery that would otherwise have lain hidden for eternity.
Clare’s prose is impeccable and the way she weaves between events in different time periods is nothing short of amazing. You have to read this to find out for yourself.
A collaboration from two female authors. This YA contemporary novel from Gilly Segal and Kimberley Jones features two teens, one black, the other white, who hardly know each other well in the beginning, but then get sucked into violence which starts at their school and ends up in the city streets.
Although this unusual YA story that is told from two different perspectives explores some topical issues that are worth paying attention to, I felt it didn’t hit all the right spots. It felt rushed in some areas, whereas in others it felt too convenient, like the authors just came up with this quick story idea because they had a subject they wanted explored at all costs.
Lena, the black girl is the cool stylish one, madly in love with a rapper who in many ways doesn’t show like he shares the same deep feelings with her. Many times over, she just seems like an afterthought. Campbell, the white half of the novel seems like the more grounded one. She is new to town, living with her divorced father after her mother has been forced by circumstances to accept a job outside the country.
I listened to the audio version of this book and the two voices did come out distinctly enough. The story’s two sides mesh quite well and subtle comparisons are made between the problems that black youths face and those that whites do. The idea was a good almost political one, but somehow the plot still didn’t rise to the great level that I expected.
It’s a three-star rating for me. If you have read this one tell me what you think.