[personal profile] emma_in_dream
Bronwyn Bancroft, W is for Wombat, My First Australian Word Book, 2008

This books is 26 bright pictures of individual Australian animals. It’s really for babies, rather than kids and my children ho-hummed it.
[personal profile] emma_in_dream
Sally Morgan, Bronwyn Bancroft, The Amazing A to Z Thing, 2014

This picture book is illustrated with Bronwyn Bancroft’s trademark bright colours and contemporary Aboriginal art. The kids liked it a lot more than the muddy art in the previous picture book I mentioned (Annaliese Porter's The Outback),


It is basically an ABC as anteater tries to find another Australian animal to be interested in her surprise. None of them will look at it. My children guessed that it might be a game but it was really a book.


They liked the final page, where all the animals admire the book. My three year old also liked the ‘H’ page where the Huntsman spider was counting its legs. She had a go as well, and got to six.
emma_in_dream: by coloured squares (pic#5356769)
[personal profile] emma_in_dream
3.04 Annaliese Porter, The Outback, 2005, illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft

This book was written by an eleven year old girl from the Gamilaraay group, which is really neat. I praise her for her accomplishment. I expect she is the youngest published author in Australia.


However, I must say that I could not get my kids to read this book. The prose was too complicated for them and the illustrations were rejected as ‘yucky’ and ‘brown’. It’s rare for them to totally refuse a book but this one I could not read to my target audience (aged five and three).
kaberett: A drawing of a black woman holding her right hand, minus a ring finger, in front of her face. "Oh, that. I cut it  off." (molly - cut it off)
[personal profile] kaberett
This came into my possession via the latest Humble Ebook Bundle, and I am so glad it did. This is how glad I am: I am about two-thirds of the way through it and I can't wait to finish before I tell you all how good it is.

The protagonist, Hanna, is sixteen, manic depressive (and explicitly, canonically prefers that descriptor to "bipolar", Because Reasons), and Finnish-"island girl" (Hawaiian?), raised (for most of her life) in Dallas. She describes herself as biracial and bicultural, and she's bilingual in English and Finnish - and the codeswitching is genuinely plausibly represented.

The dude she ends up hanging around with a lot is the same age, Latino, and bilingual in Spanish and English - again, really nicely represented.

The story takes place in creepy smalltown Texas. It's sub/urban fantasy and abusive parents and a critique of the medical-industrial complex and teenagers having (complicated, not always happy) sex lives all tied up in tight, funny monster-killing brilliance. It's lovely.

Content notes. )
dorothean: detail of painting of Gandalf, Frodo, and Gimli at the Gates of Moria, trying to figure out how to open them (Default)
[personal profile] dorothean
I've just finished reading Marjorie M. Liu's four "Hunter Kiss" urban fantasy novels. They are very fun, but I am short on shelf space so I'd like to give them to someone else who'd like to read them. Any takers? Just leave a comment saying you'd like them, and I will pick someone by random selection, and contact the winner by comment and private message. I'll do this after noon next Sunday, December 15, Eastern Standard Time. It doesn't matter where in the world you live, but I would like to dispose of all four at once -- if you've already got one of the novels, let me know which and I'll put that one up on Bookmooch, but I'd like to send at least three together.

What's it about? -- Maxine Kiss is the latest in a matrilineal line of demon slayers, the Hunters. Her job is to fight demons who possess humans in order to create and feed on pain and anger. The demons she meets have slipped free from the Prison Veil, behind which they were trapped after an epic battle thousands of years ago. The only exceptions (cue ominous music) seem to be the five demons allied to the Hunter, who hunt with her at night and during the day are trapped on her body as protective living tattoos. (Yes, this is really awesome.)

Hunters are supposed to wander the earth as strangers, without establishing relationships that could make them vulnerable, but Maxine broke with this tradition when she met Grant, a really sweet (but muscular, of course) former priest who runs a homeless shelter in Seattle. Grant has strange magical powers; with his voice or flute music, he can heal physical and psychic wounds and even persuade demons to lead a more ethical life. Maxine was not brought up to be anything other than tough and merciless, so Grant does pretty much all of the emotional nurturing in their relationship, a reversal I quite enjoy.

There's also a large cast of entertaining secondary characters -- morally ambiguous demons, really nasty demons, Maxine's mysterious-but-charming grandpa, etc.

As the series goes on we learn more about how the demons became imprisoned and what happens if they get out; I'm not super keen on this part because I'm really in it for the violent fluff (Liu is great at describing demons eating things), but there's definitely ongoing plot.

If you're curious, book #4 answers a lot of questions and tentatively wraps up some situations, but Liu is writing another Hunter Kiss novel now. There are also, I think, two novellas and a short story about Maxine. I've read one, "Hunter Kiss," which was published in an anthology (but is also available separately as an ebook) before the novels. It is more of a romance than the novels and explains how Maxine and Grant met, but I don't think it's as good as the novels.

My reviews on Goodreads:
0.5. Hunter Kiss
1. The Iron Hunt
2. Darkness Calls
3. A Wild Light
4. The Mortal Bone
dorothean: detail of painting of Gandalf, Frodo, and Gimli at the Gates of Moria, trying to figure out how to open them (Default)
[personal profile] dorothean
[personal profile] deepad has organized a reading club for novels by Anuja Chauhan, with copies of The Zoya Factor, Battle for Bittora, and Those Pricey Thakur Girls circulating by mail. (Other reactions to these books collected by [personal profile] deepad.) I've just read Battle for Bittora, wherein Jinni, a young woman who's been working in advertising and keeping her distance from her famous political family, winds up in a MP race against her childhood best friend. Here's my review (originally posted on Goodreads):

Battle for Bittora is very more-ish -- I barely put it down since I took it out of the mailbox yesterday afternoon. It also made me laugh out loud a lot. I'm not sure I've ever read a book about politics before that was so much fun.

I love stories that go into gory details about some kind of work or play that the author is clearly familiar with. Here it's political campaigning (and, in the beginning, a little bit of commercial animation). I found that my limited knowledge of Indian political history and electoral issues wasn't really a problem, and as to election mechanics, well, the well-justified cynicism I grew right here at home was perfectly sufficient.

The political campaign is the first mover of everything in this novel, with a romance and a grandmother, mother, and daughter's story following closely to the same quick music.

As to the romance, I was a little dubious at first because of Zain's rather aggressive treatment of Jinni, but quickly won over. Your mileage may vary but I thought there was a nice balance between "they are destined for each other for so many reasons!" and the sense that Jinni is defined by much more than whom and how she loves. (skip spoiler)
I think Chauhan resolved it very nicely -- post-election resentments dissolved; accusations of betrayal determined to be not unfounded, but equally applicable to both; prospects of excellent complementary political teamwork established. And she left them plenty of things to argue about, which I'm sure they will need.


The three generations of Pande women are wonderful. I loved reading Jinni's interactions with Pushpa Pande, which even more than the romance are the beating heart of the story: loyalty, exasperation, experience, defiance, the limits of sympathetic understanding, the secret limitlessness of love. All with plenty of humor.

The Ladies Finger perfectly describes how Anuja Chauhan is funny: "The woman has many levels of humour. Situation, one-liners, gags, man-hits-tomato-cart and just beautiful knee-deep absurdity." It is really impressive how much humor she could fit into this novel, which after all has a lot of serious stuff: Jinni witnesses all kinds of suffering, injust situations, and even violence which will sit heavily on her shoulders should she win the election -- and then there's the ongoing portrayal of political life which deals with this responsibility mainly by empty campaign promises -- plus lots of Issues like sexism in campaigning and Hindu-Muslim tensions -- and then (skip spoiler)
the death of a major character
But it is funny, and mostly tastefully and inoffensively so (at least from the perspective of this non-Indian, can't-read-the-bits-that-aren't-in-English reader*).

All this, and Chauhan also manages to include plenty of great minor characters, some of whom have real depth. My favorites are campaign funds manager Gudia aunty (so much more than the rather insensitive comic relief I first pegged her as) and crack team member Munni (her cynical competence! her anger!).

In short -- the funniest, most thoughtful, sweetest, and overall best chick-lit novel I have ever read.


* The humor I had the most complicated reaction to was the very first scene, in which Jinni's gay coworker is horrifying her with his theory that all her favorite superheroes are gay. On one hand, adorable, comics fandom on page 1! On the other hand, eek, being grossed-out is not a good reaction, Jinni! On the foot, I shouldn't be a hypocrite, my own first reaction to slash fanfic was much like Jinni's.

But this turned out not to count for much because then Pushpa Pande swept into the building and I was hooked.
dorothean: detail of painting of Gandalf, Frodo, and Gimli at the Gates of Moria, trying to figure out how to open them (Default)
[personal profile] dorothean
[I'm so sorry for not posting on here more! I haven't been reading as much this year, but I have read other books that qualify, and I hope I can manage to catch up.]

Seventeen-year-old Li Lan has barely begun to think about her future when her father unthinkingly passes along a rather insulting request he's received from the powerful Lim family: will Li Lan marry their recently-deceased son?

Of course not. Li Lan doesn't want to be an instant widow; her father says it's superstition. Nevertheless, she soon finds herself caught up in the old and new entanglements between her family and the Lims, which exist not only in waking life, but in her dreams, and in death. And though she's uncertain of her own strengths and ignorant of the workings of all of these worlds, the actions she takes to protect herself thrust her deeper into a complex supernatural conspiracy.

The rest of my review -- one spoiler hidden with spoiler code )
pretty_panther: (misc: cat on books)
[personal profile] pretty_panther
Copied from my book review blog.

The Attack by Yasmina Khadra is a book I stumbled across by chance in the local library when I trotted down with a list of recommended books by people of colour from my friends as part of my reading challenge. My library is frankly woeful and I didn't find anything on my list but while looking I noticed this author. I figured the name sounded like it might be that of someone of colour so plucked it out and found I was correct. I then bothered to actually read the blurb on the back and it sounded exactly my sort of thing. I then noticed there was another Khadra book on the shelf and picked that up as well. I'm yet to finish that but it is turning out to be just as wonderful as this.

Read more... )
originally posted here
coffeeandink: (Default)
[personal profile] coffeeandink
X-posted from my journal. Review copy provided by the publisher through Netgalley.

When they decided to marry, the siblings and gods Izanami and Izanaki built a huge pillar and then circled it in opposite directions. Izanami, the woman, spoke first, and because of this their first two children were monsters. They circled the pillar again and this time Izanagi spoke first, and their next children were the eight islands of Japan. Izanami ultimately died of burns from giving birth to Kago-Tsuki, Fire. The grief-stricken Izanagi sought her in the land of the dead, but he was too late: Izanami had already the food of the underworld. Against Izanami's pleas, Izanagi lit a fire and saw that his dead wife was now a rotting corpse. Izanagi fled the underworld in horror, blocking the entrance to the underworld with a huge boulder. Izanami vowed to take a thousand lives a day in revenge, and Izanagi replied that he would then create fifteen hundred to make up for it.

After this, Izanagi gave birth to Ameratsu (the sun goddess) from his left eye, Tsukuyomi (the moon god) from his right eye, and Susano-o (the storm god) from his nose.

Natsuo Kirino's retelling, the latest book in the Canongate Myths series, preserves the gendered cruelty of the original story: women continue to pay prices men do not. Izanami dies in childbirth; for Izanagi, childbirth is painless. The unequal dualities of Izanagi and Izanami, male and female, life and death, sacred and profane, repeat in the story of two sisters, hereditary priestesses on a remote island. The elder, Kamikuu, is trained to be priestess of the day, the side of the island where the villagers live; Namima is the impure one, the priestess of the night, meant to watch over the bodies of the dead.

Namima narrates the book from the underworld. Death is the price she pays for violating ritual laws at the behest of her lover, who prospers after her death; their daughter is condemned to Namima's own role. Namima manages to free her daughter of this fate, posthumously; it is her only victory. Satisfied with this prize, she accepts her fate:

And I, who was once the priestess of the darkness, feel that serving here at Izanami’s side I am able to accomplish what I was unable to finish on earth. For, as I said earlier, Izanami is without doubt a woman among women. The trials that she has borne are the trials all women must face.


This is a bleak book, where the only hope for women is what they can do for each other, and even that seldom serves them. It is not any bleaker than Kirino's mystery novels, which also feature doubles, opposites, rivalries between sisters or friends, and women who are associated with the hidden, the unacknowledged, the unwanted aspects of the body. Prostitutes, factory laborers, caretakers for the elderly: Kirino's characters are defined by society as impure; they are sin eaters and scapegoats.

The Goddess Chronicle lacks the depth and complexity of those mysteries, possibly because it has a single narrator, whereas the mysteries have four viewpoint characters at minimum. Their stories contradict and support each other. Namima is unusually reliable for a Kirino narrator, and it can't be attributed to her afterlife; in this underworld, the dead see no more clearly than the living do. Men abandon their responsibilities with their memories; women, even goddesses, simply endure.
[personal profile] emma_in_dream
This collection of journalistic essays about life as second generation Lebanese Australians is really interesting. It would be great for a school library as the collection is accessibly written and eclectically covers a variety of topics.


My only quibble is that some of the essays are about the experiences of the authors while others are the result of interviews but the essays are not marked to show this distinction. It would be helpful if there was a header on each essay giving a very general overview of who was interviewed.
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
[personal profile] seekingferret
24. NW by Zadie Smith

-So the thing about NW is that it is probably Smith's most personal novel since White Teeth. You really feel it in your gut, that this is Smith's life that she is bleeding onto the page. This is her agonies of childhood, her collegiate doubts, her romantic questionings, her maternal worries, distilled and represented as tightly as she can manage.

It is an uncomfortable experience. I will tell you that up front. It is a story about a London that is as multifariously multicultural as that shown in White Teeth or The Autograph Man, but it is not as joyously multicultural. For 22 year old Zadie Smith, intersections of cultures were sites of tension, but also opportunities for growth, causes for celebration. For 36 year old Zadie Smith, they are traps one is not sure they ought to try to wriggle out of. And that's not even the half of it. The true discomfort of NW is the intensity of the emotional connections that Smith forges between the reader and her four protagonists. There is no remove, no irony, no separation between these characters' deepest thoughts and the text that appears on the page.

Smith pulls out every trick she knows to achieve this effect. Modernist techniques like Woolfian or Joycian Stream of Consciousness share pages with scene descriptions that reminded me of Hardy's lush Post-Romanticism, while Post-Modern perspective shifts and documentary storytelling a la Pynchon or DeLillo sits next to conventionalized novel of manners narrations. I think in addition to being her most personal novel and her most uncomfortable novel, it is also her most baffling novel. I wrote of On Beauty that Smith was demanding your engagement, your participation. Smith demands something more of her readers here: She demands that you stay on your toes, keep your wits about you. This is her most suspenseful novel, the one with the most surprising plot twists. In a weird way, though it probably has the smallest amount of visible PLOT of any of her books, it might be the novel most dependent on plot.

-It's a story about Northwest London, the poor and working class and middle class districts full of immigrants and yearners, as seen through the eyes of four (well, three and a half. Smith goes as close as she can to the internal thoughts of three of the protags, then keeps a cautious distance from the fourth.) people who grew up in the Caldwell council estate (which I gather is British for 'housing project'). Leah is a white girl whose best friend from childhood is the black Keisha, who changes her name to Natalie at university to help pursue a career as a barrister. In addition to telling the stories of their sometimes intertwined lives in exacting detail, Smith tells the stories of their former classmate Nathan who has become homeless, a desperate wannabe 'player', and Felix, a working mechanic on a trajectory out of Caldwell when tragedy alters the course of his life.

Each story is told differently. Leah's narrative unfolds over weeks, Felix's over a couple of days, Natalie's over decades, Nathan's in an evening. I think Natalie's is probably the most successful, and others I've spoken to have agreed, but its success lies in an alignment between the empathy of the reader and the emotional state of the character- for a person whose empathy is aligned differently, I would expect a very different sensation. I know people who would like Leah's story best, and I know people who would like Felix's best. [If I compared the four protags to the four children from the Passover seder, Nathan would be the child who doesn't know how to ask. I know people whose empathy would be aligned with him, but they wouldn't read the book. This is one of the things Smith wrestles with in NW, as the overall metanarrative confronts the inequality of outcomes for these four strivers who came from the same beginning, more or less. Some people approach the world in different ways, and communicating those gaps is one of the tasks of the great novelist. But some people aren't even in the conversation, and the question becomes what responsibility, what moral obligation, the author has toward the child who doesn't even know how to ask.]

In sum, if you have admired or enjoyed Smith's other novels, you ought to give this one a try, but be aware that it is a more complicated and dangerous treat.
[personal profile] emma_in_dream
Pearl, now five, is besotted with this book, the story of a little girl participating in her aunt's wedding She likes that they go to the hairdresser and get their hair curled. She likes that they have pretty dresses to wear. Even Ruby, aged two and a half, likes the drama of the flower girl dress at first not fitting! Oh no! But the dress maker fixes it!

The author has also written *The Glory Garage: Growing Up Lebanese Muslim in Australia* which I now want to read. Her biographical note says she has a passion for promoting understanding between Anglo-Australian culture and Islamic culture in Australia and that she has three little girls who like playing dress ups and getting married.
dorothean: detail of painting of Gandalf, Frodo, and Gimli at the Gates of Moria, trying to figure out how to open them (Default)
[personal profile] dorothean
It's been ages since I posted about a book here! I hope I'll be able to fix that soon -- I'm reading several other books for my history research project that are by authors of color.

Crossposted from Goodreads.

Robert A. Williams, Jr., who is a Lumbee law professor (currently at the University of Arizona Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program), had previously written a book on The American Indian in Western Legal Thought: The Discourses of Conquest. He decided to write another, a "complementary study" that outlined Native people's legal and diplomatic discourse during the Encounter period. The result is Linking Arms Together.

Cut for length )
dorothean: detail of painting of Gandalf, Frodo, and Gimli at the Gates of Moria, trying to figure out how to open them (Default)
[personal profile] dorothean
The 2012 Nebula Awards nominees were announced yesterday. Here are the ones by authors of color, that I know of (if you notice a mistake or omission, please let me know!).

Novel:
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin

Novella:
On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard
"All the Flavors" by Ken Liu (online here)

Novelette:
"The Waves" by Ken Liu

Short Story:
"Immersion" by Aliette de Bodard (online here)
"The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species" by Ken Liu (online here)

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy:
Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Fair Coin by E.C. Myers

Thoughts on any of these? (I've only read one -- The Killing Moon, which I liked even more than Jemisin's Inheritance Trilogy -- but I've been waiting to post about it until I have time to read the sequel, The Shadowed Sun.)
coffeeandink: (Default)
[personal profile] coffeeandink
X-posted from my journal.

Although this novella makes an interesting attempt to engage with the social constraints of the time in a more realistic manner than many Victorian-set romances, it founders on inconsistent characterization and on a gender subtext greatly at odds with its surface. Despite some genuinely moving aspects -- particularly the heroine's delayed emotional reaction to traumatic events in her past and the hero's painful relationship with his frail and increasingly senile father -- the story fails for me due to disquieting elements in the central romance.

Cut for length and spoilers; trigger warning for statutory rape )
delfinnium: (Default)
[personal profile] delfinnium
(recommended to link here by Deepad. First post, first review thing!)

Thanks to [personal profile] deepad, I'm currently reading the series Gameworld Trilogy by Samit Basu. (can be found here. It can be bought here!)

And it does start off a little slow, in the beginning, especially if you're like me, and have very little familarity with the Ramayan other than a very vauge understanding of 'something happens, Demons evil attack! Princess is involved, there is a vanar, Lord of monkeys and a damn good archer, involved somewhere, there is a lot of fire, and a chariot happens to be there somewhere', you might be a little thrown by all the terms there.

And it's GOOD!

I like that!

I mean there are some books (like the God of War series) that use terms so obscure and strange that it is hard to actually understand what is going on in the world unless you read it several times (and I'm not so sure I'm drawn into it), but this world is not like that!

I mean there are creatures whom you don't know what they are - vaman, pashan, vanar (though since I know passingly from School the ramayana, i know what vanar are), khuldran, and so on and so forth, and Samit doesn't explain, not at first.

But then as the story opens up, you start to realise what they are. Vaman are the equivalent of dwarves, vanar are monkeys/apes, pashan seem to be troll types, asur are... I'm not sure what they are, really, other than that no one likes them and they do all the dirty shitty jobs that no one wants.

( Yet longer incoherent flailing review here! )

Just.

You like POC cultures and fantasy? Sick of male dominated Generic White Medieval Fantasy?

THIS WILL BLOW YOUR SOCKS.

Genre: SFF, fantasy, parody
Subject: parody, trope inversion, non-white fantasy
Author nationality/ethnicity: Indian
 
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
[personal profile] seekingferret
We had a big post last year with suggestions for Hugo nominations that are [community profile] 50books_poc eligible. Nominations have opened up again- anybody have suggestions?

Among the novels I'm aware of, in absolutely random order as they occur to me:

Terminal Point by KM Ruiz
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
Fair Coin by E.C. Myers
Quantum Coin by E.C. Myers
The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin
The Shadowed Sun by N.K. Jemisin
Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders by Samuel Delany
Wicked City by Alaya Dawn Johnson
Emperor Mollusk Versus The Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez


There must be more. Please recommend novels, novellas, short stories, related works, dramatic presentations, editors, graphic novels, etc...
sumofparts: picture of books with text 'books are humanity in print' (books)
[personal profile] sumofparts
I finished my second set of 50, yay and started a new set. Below are some thoughts on the books.

Remainder of second set:
39. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
40. A Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee
41. Orange Mint and Honey by Carleen Brice
42. Zone One by Colson Whitehead
43. The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd
44. The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi
45. Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai
46. Snakes and Ladders by Gita Mehta
47. The End of East by Jen Sookfong Lee
48. Beijing Confidential by Jan Wong
49. Something Fierce by Carmen Aguirre
50. Brick Lane by Monica Ali
New set:
1. Decoded by Jay-Z

Cut for length )
[personal profile] emma_in_dream
I found this book on Anita Heiss’ list of the top 100 Aboriginal books - http://anitaheissblog.blogspot.com.au.

I would strongly disagree that it belonged there.

It is a reimagining of the Myall Creek Massacre, with a cast of characters around a German Lutheran mission. And it is stunningly boring.

This is partly a result of the prose style which could most charitably be described as Hemingwayesque in that it is sparse and favours short sentences. Also, the characterisation is kind of Hemingwayesque, in that it is non-existent. And the women are kind of Hemingwayesque, in that they are Madonna/whores.

So, I like neither the style nor the characters.

And I wasn’t that keen on the plot either, because, frankly, I don’t think that the Myall Creek massacre needs to be reimagined. It’s like James Cameron doing the Titanic but instead of telling us the gripping and fascinating stories of the real people, he invented Jack and Rose and their mundane love affaire.

McLaren decided that instead of telling us the incredibly tragic story of the Myall Creek massacre, he would... write short, sparse sentences about a German Lutheran missionary raping women and setting up the Aboriginal people as the rapist/murderers until the white population snap and massacre the local tribe. It’s not like he had to call it Myall Creek. There were plenty of other massacres, stretching back to the beginning of the colony and forward into the twentieth century. It’s just that this one was well documented because the accused were taken to court and some of them eventually executed.

All in all, no thumbs up for plot, characters or style.
[personal profile] emma_in_dream
I chose this picture book randomly from the shelf because I was looking for a book to encourage eating vegetables. And then, bonus!, it is eligible for this challenge.

It does all the things a book for a picky preschool eater is meant to. It has colourful foods and counting and games and at the end there is a recipe. Pearl looked at the recipe and said NO SOUP! so she is perhaps pickier than the intended reader.

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