ext_48823: 42, the answer to life, the universe and everything (Default)
[identity profile] sumofparts.livejournal.com
Haven't posted in a while. Here's a series of mini-reviews with some spoilers. Also, some of the books contain potentially triggering content.

6. Un-Nappily in Love by Trisha R. Thomas
7. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
8. Tracks by Louise Erdrich
9. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
10. Umbrella by Taro Yashima
11. Little Joy by Ruowen Wang
12. Why War is Never a Good Idea by Alice Walker
13. Erika-san by Allen Say
14. Dahanu Road by Anosh Irani
15. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
16. The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez
17. In the Company of Ogres by A. Lee Martinez
18. Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
19. Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez
20. Monster by A. Lee  Martinez
21. Certainty by Madeleine Thien
22. So Long Been Dreaming edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan
23. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
24. Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez
25. A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez
26. A Person of Interest by Susan Choi
27. Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead

Mention (not counted)
Josias, Hold the Book by Jennifer Riesmeyer Elvgren (white); illustrated by Nicole Tadgell (person of colour)

Read more... )
[identity profile] chipmunk-planet.livejournal.com
Hamza and Yehat are ultimately geeky black college-educated roommates in Edmonton, Canada, best friends since grade school, who run day camps for the kids in their neighborhood and are two all-around nice guys. But they're what you might call underachievers: Hamza's a dish-washer, Yehat works at the local movie rental store. But they're the Coyote Kings, and everyone knows it.

Things start to go awry for our two heroes when Hamza meets (and falls head over heels for) the beautiful, mysterious and world-traveled Sherem, who's involved in a situation involving bizarre drugs, weird superpowers, 7000-year old plots, and the possible End Of Life As We Know It.

This book is surreal, quirky (each POV character has their own D&D-style character sheet!) and sometimes difficult to follow, as it's not always clear in whose POV you're reading. Also, the author uses phonetic spelling for some of the characters which I also found difficult to follow. But it's fast-paced and a lot of fun, as well as laugh out loud funny in places.

I LOVED the characterization; I think that was the strongest part of the story. The author did a good job of making sure none of the characters were cut-outs. And how can you not like main characters who quote Star Wars and argue over Star Trek plots? :D

Go read it!
chomiji: An artists' palette with paints of many human skin colors. Caption: Create a world without racism (IBARW - palette)
[personal profile] chomiji

Hamza Senesert was once a contender, a creative grad student with a talent for writing. Now he washes dishes in a trendy "fun" restaurant. His best friend Yehat Gerbles is in a similar state of career petrification: he works as a clerk in a video store, even though he's a (mostly) self-taught engineering wizard. Together, they share a house in a vibrant multi-ethinic neighborhood of Edmonton (Canada) called Kush, where they are the Coyote Kings, well-liked operators of a camp/afterschool activity center for the neighborhood kids and connoisseurs of science fiction, comics, and role-playing games.

Their weirdly pleasant world (weirdly, considering their job situations and Hamza's writer's block and broken heart) becomes a lot more weird and much, much less pleasant when Hamza meets and falls for a truly impressive woman of mystery named Sherem. All at once, these endearingly geeky lifelong buddies are mixed up with comic book-type villains who are all too real and deadly, strangely seductive drugs, and bizarrely horrific cults.

I really enjoyed this book, which plays right into my love of buddy stories and generalized geekdom. I will note that Faust is in love with language, and writes like it: this is in no way a straightforward narrative (indeed, it begins with an epilogue). It also includes several very gruesome, violent scenes, and Sherem is the only female character with more than a walk-on part.

Other Reviews of This in 50books_poc:
by littlebutfierce
by oddmonster
by seekingferret
by wordsofastory

[identity profile] wordsofastory.livejournal.com
23. Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki, Skim

This is a graphic novel about Skim, a Japanese-Canadian teenage girl dealing with her parents' divorce, her rough relationship with her best friend, the suicide of another student, learning about Wicca, and oh, yeah, falling in love with her female teacher.

A lot of other people have reviewed this book, and I don't really have much to add. The art was gorgeous, plain black and white lines that went from sparse to lush. The story-telling is excellent, particularly in its use of silence, or understatement, to capture emotion. And personally, I really identified with Skim's interest in Wicca; I was totally that teenage girl.

Overall, a really lovely, quiet book, though one that didn't involve me too emotionally.

24. Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

I read this back in January and forgot to review it, so I will try to remember what I can. This is a nonfiction pop book about first impressions- why we get them, how they form, how they affect our thinking, if they're right, etc. It's an interesting topic. Gladwell's careful to look at both sides of the argument: when subconscious reactions are good, because there's not enough time to think a question through; and when they can be very, very bad- he examines the case of Amadou Diallo, a black unarmed man who was fatally shot by police officers.

Overall, this was a fun, informative book. I gulped it down in one sitting over an afternoon, so it's not a deep thought book, but one I enjoyed reading.
[identity profile] wordsofastory.livejournal.com
18. Minister Faust, The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad

This was a wickedly fun book. Hamza and Yehat are best friends living in Edmonton, Canada, who get involved in a insanely complicated plot involving drug dealers, mystical relics, magical powers, cannibalism, Ancient Egypt, and the forces of good and evil themselves. Of course. Every character in this book is a geek of one sort or another, and the writing is full of references to Star Wars, Star Trek, Stephen King, Watchmen, D + D, and so on. The characters also often mention music, and the descriptions were so good as to make me want to go and and find the stuff mentioned. One of the things I really liked about this book was that most of the characters were politically aware, without the plot necessarily focusing on that aspect. The way it made it seem totally normal for people to discuss feminism, capitalism, racism, the War in Iraq, organic food, and so on without it being a Big Deal or a sign that This Character Is Special was really appreciated.

But the absolute best thing about this book is writing. The style at times approaches lyrics, with the rhythm and beat of the words almost demanding you read some passages out loud. At other times, it's all about the puns and clever wordplay. There's just an amazing use of language in this book. One of the ways it most reveals itself is in the narration: there are about eleven different narrators in this book, and although the chapters aren't labeled with who is speaking or any other obvious clue, it's always easy to tell who the current narrator is. Minister Faust manages to have eleven distinct voices, and that's really impressive.

Anyway. An incredibly fun book. Also, the author has a a blog, which is pretty interesting reading as well.
[identity profile] anitabuchan.livejournal.com
8. Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

This has already been reviewed several times, so I doubt I'm going to say anything new here. Overall, I liked this book a lot, and have added other books by Hopkinson to my wishlist. It wasn't perfect. Sometimes the writing was a bit clumsy, and at times I felt it was a bit slow moving. There was a lot of detail and description, which was great because it established this fascinating and original future world, but I felt it also slowed the pace a little. I loved that this was different - not based on European mythologies, like most fantasies are. I also thought the dialogue was very well written, and the big finish was perfect.

9. Sunday You Learn How To Box by Bil Wright

This has also been reviewed here before. It's set in 1968, and centres on a 14 year old boy, Louis Bowman, who lives with his mother and stepfather in a housing project.

It is a very good novel. The writing style is great, and it tackles many issues I'm interested in - Louis is gay, suffers from depression, and really doesn't fit in. The scene in which he went to a party and stood pretending he was helping the DJ instead of socialising felt painfully real. The characters were complex and real. Louis' mother let his stepfather abuse him - encouraged it, even - but was also shown to be a woman with her own ambitions, struggling to do her best to improve her life. Ray Anthony, the local 'hoodlum' Louis gets a crush on, defies stereotypes to act as a kind of protecter to Louis, and the friendship that grows between the two is very sweet.

It did take me a while to get into this. Louis is a character I found difficult to like, although that changed as the book went on. To be honest, I didn't much like the beginning - it starts with a very dramatic event, then skips back several months, which is something I'm never a fan of. But the ending was beautiful and sweet, and left me with a happy glow.
[identity profile] whereweather.livejournal.com
Brown Girl in the Ring, Nalo Hopkinson

Well, I see that Nalo Hopkinson is very popular here.  I have had several of her books on my to-read list for years, so I began with this one.

My feelings about the book are mixed -- it definitely shows many of the signs of a first novel, including some very clumsily worded passages, and a lot of filtering-type language ("Ti-Jeanne thought... Ti-Jeanne felt... Ti-Jeanne heard XX say..."), as well as some info-dumping ("Ti-Jeanne knew...")  But the setting, and the cultural and political backdrop, are so new and so vibrant -- fully felt, deeply realized and believed in -- that the book has some very strong bones, despite the occasional infelicities.  

more... )

Anyway.  An interesting book, and I will look forward to seeing how Hopkinson's style develops as she progresses in her career.  Two and a half or three stars out of five, I think: two or two and a half for execution and technique, and three and a half for power and potential.

(ETA: Oh!  And I am also going to read Derek Walcott's "Ti-Jean and His Brothers," which ought to shed further light.)
[identity profile] erinlin.livejournal.com
"I saw it (this book) as subverting the genre, which speaks so much about the experience of being alienated, but contains so little written by alienated people themselves." - Nalo Hopkinson

Summery: Toronto's gone to hell, the priemer needs a new heart, and new mom Ti-Jeanne's boyfriend is in trouble with the mob.

My thoughts:

What I liked best about the man character (Ti-Jeanne) is she doesn't let let anybody push her around, but she isn't self-destructivly stubborn either. She's got a great balance.

Most of the dialogue is in Caribbean-Canadian dialect that gives the book a wonderful flavour and authenticity, but is still easy to understand.

Several characters in the book were gay, and I like how they where just there. There, in the background, going about their lives like it was perfectly normal.

This is voodoo from an insider's perspective, which I've never read before. When the spirits appear, they not cartoonish threatening Satan stand-ins, they're Gods. They have grace, power and divinity- and they're black. I sat there for a moment going "Whoa! Paradigm shift!

Also, the climax was really cool. Using the CN Tower as a giant spirit pole is one of those awesome concepts/set-peices that fantasy is made for.
[identity profile] dakiwiboid.livejournal.com
Here are my book 1 and 2 of the formal challenge. I suspect that I've actually read at least 15 books by POC so far this year, but I haven't been keeping track of them, so they don't count. I have been delighted to find a number of authors who are new to me and to expand my reading, especially in SF, by the way!

I know that I'm going over decidedly well-trodden ground here, so I'm going to put the reviews behind a cut. Read more... )


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