Tag Archives: Contemporary

Muslim Writers

In the light of some interesting books and viewpoints being created and posted, specifically on Twitter, I decided to dedicate this post to Muslim writers.

If you did not know by now, I identity myself as a practicing Muslim woman, hijab and all. And although it is not new to see Muslims as the topic of discussion, I felt that something needed to be said at this point. Why? Because reading is the most important thing that humans are capable of. Words change or make your viewpoint. Stories remind you of something; be what is happening presently or what you think can happen in the future, stories shape this world.

But I slightly digress. What sent me over the edge is shown below:

For those that have said or will say ‘but there are books about Jewish detainment camps and Asian detainment camps.” Yes, there are because that actually happened. It is a part of history. Muslim detainment camps where a random white girl saves the day… not my cup of tea nor do I feel it is appropriate to tell that story, mainly because that crap aint happen. And not the whole white girl saves the day, most main stream books tell that same story over and over again. But having a white author talk about Muslim detainment camps as if it actually happened or is going to happen is troubling. That’s my issue and if you have an issue feel free to argue about it among yourselves because I’m not.

The purpose of this post is to remind you all that there are Muslim voices and it is important to read their stories and support them. Just like you are willing to pay $10-$20 to read the white girl save the day, you can support a book where a Muslim girl or boy, woman or man, saves the day, be it the world or their world. Shown below are books written by Muslim authors. If you don’t support Muslim authors, you can never say you didn’t know any. So here are a few. #muslimshelfspace

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Book Review: The Mirror Sisters (The Mirror Sisters #1) by V.C. Andrews

Pocket Books To Be Published Oct. 25, 2016 384 Pages
Pocket Books
To Be Published Oct. 25, 2016
384 Pages

Their mother wanted everything to be the same including the identical sisters. Same toys, friends even the number of letters in their names. If it wasn’t the same, it wasn’t right. Haylee Blossom Fitzgerald and Kaylee Blossom Fitzgerald were homeschooled since early age but when their mother decides to let them go into public school, the differences the sisters had to hide and now being brought to light. 

These differences, however, can literally cause life or death.

*Short Review*

I didn’t like this book. Let’s be blunt about it. There were great qualities to this book but overall I didn’t like it.

Firstly, I didn’t like Kaylee, who is the narrator of this book. Her tone was lifeless and downright annoying and whinny. She had no backbone and I can see why the choose that, to show the differences in the sisters, but I was not enjoying it. It was too much to deal with and that is why I didn’t like the book so much.

I did love the obsessive nature of the mother. It could have been more dark and considering V.C. Andrews history, I thought it would have been. So I was a bit let down that it wasn’t. There was predictability in the book. My surprised didn’t come until I read the preview of the second book. I shouldn’t have been surprised but I was and it did make me want to read the second book.

I didn’t like the pace of the novel, it was too slow for me. I appreciated the details but it was getting too much to deal with about half way through the book.

Overall, not my favorite. I do hope that book two will be much much better.

2 Pickles

Book Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Clarion Books To Be Published Jan. 3rd, 2017 320 Pages
Clarion Books
To Be Published Jan. 3rd, 2017
320 Pages

Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. She can’t leave the house and her weekly visits to the doctor causing mental and physical exhaustion, that leaves her like a puddle. One day while she is trying to get the groceries from the front porch using a stick, her new neighbor, Luke spots her and a friendship begins to build.

Unaccustomed to these new emotions, Norah wonders if she can let Luke in or if he deserves a normal girl, unlike her.

I’ve been itching for this book for a while and was too happy when I was approved for it via Netgalley. This book was everything I had hoped for in other books detailing mental health with young adults.

Firstly, in the beginning of this book, it did remind me of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (my favorite!) but it quickly developed into something different, something on its own. The summary makes it seem like this entire book is about a romance but it isn’t. I mean its there but it isn’t the only thing that should be paid attention to.

It was realistic; obviously this is a contemporary book. But what I mean is that it was believable. The author did not shy away from being detailed and did not shy away from the agony of emotion that Norah felt. Not only did I feel for her, I felt with her. The author was able to grasp “dating” from someone who only lets her mother touch her in such a cute and frustrating way. While reading this, I didn’t feel that there needed to be more details, the pace was perfect and Luke was too good to be true.

I liked Norah. She wasn’t just her illness. She was smart, sarcastic, caring with a hint of sensitivity. Norah didn’t have a whole lot going on with her personality but that is to be expected when you don’t leave your house.

I did at one point feel that the author may have done too much with feeding into Norah’s paranoia. Other than that, I cannot complain about this book. It was a realistic interpretation of mental illness and the fear of people not accepting you, believing you and helping you.  While also throwing in there some cute cute first love.

This was a perfect read and I highly recommend it to people who are even remotely interested in mental illness from fiction viewpoint.

5 Pickles

Book Review: Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

Grove Press To Be Published Jan. 3rd, 2017
Grove Press
To Be Published Jan. 3rd, 2017

A collection of short stories of various women and their passionate or lack there of lives. From imperfectly perfect marriages, to failed ones; from escaping the past to fighting for a future. 

These short stories highlight women in their most difficult position. 

You guys know that I am not the biggest fan of short stories. But this is Roxane Gay. Yes, I didn’t really enjoy Bad Feminist  but I heard through the grapevine that her fiction work was really good, so I took a stab at this [Thank you Grove Press].

I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would. I loved how Gay focuses on topics never thought of including one with a bit of fantasy to it. It shows that she looks out side the box and looks at women as much more than women. I loved the details without it being drawn out. However, with that being said there were some short stories that never really concluded for me. Such as the Frigid Women and Crazy Women. These two stories just ended without me feeling like “oh, okay.”  They could have been a bit longer to feel like something was ending as opposed to the world was about to open.

I really loved I will Follow You. It was such a simple story but it packed so much punch, so much emotion that it made me excited for the rest of the book. It was an amazing start. The Florida section was good but it didn’t have that same amazement as the previous stories. I did like the inside behind closed doors viewpoint she decided to do. [This is as far as I am detailing]

Overall, I was impressed.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Cover Your Eyes (Morgans of Nashville #1) by Mary Burton

Zebra Published Oct. 28, 2014 400 Pages
Zebra
Published Oct. 28, 2014
400 Pages

Public defender Rachel Wainwright is having a hard time. Still not over the death of her brother, she buries herself is old cases to provide those falsely imprisoned innocent. In her latest case, she is struggling for support in proving an innocent man guilty of Annie Dawson’s murder thirty years ago and homicide detective Deke Morgan is not making things easier.

But when Rachel’s digging reveals hidden secrets, she becomes an unwillingly target to a murder filled with jealously and rage.

 

If you never read a book about old secrets being dug up by an outsider in a small town then this would be the perfect book for you. If you have read a book in that nature, you may have a hard time with this.

So, let’s jump right into is. Predictability. The author wasn’t the most creative for most of the book. It wasn’t until the beginning of the end that things started to change and although I welcomed it, greatly, it was a bit too late for me.

The pace of the novel despite the predictability was great. The novel was detailed without being drawn out and the characters had substance to their personalities. I liked the suspense in the story and being able to see the viewpoint of the killer as well as Rachel and Deke. This book could have been much darker and the romance could have been extremely intense but as a first to this series it wasn’t bad.

I loved the complexity of family that was added to the novel. It did leave room to more details for further novels and it wasn’t done distastefully.

The predictability was my biggest and only issue. But I strongly recommend this to readers who are new to this genre or storyline.

3 Pickles

Book Review: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

Little Brown Published July 26, 2016 352 Pages
Little Brown
Published July 26, 2016
352 Pages

Eric and Katie want the best for their 15-year-old gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful daughter and have given their lives for her and her dream. But when a death hits the close-knit gymnastic community. secrets spill out and hidden agendas are discovered. Katie, unwillingly finds herself drawn to the crime, as she tries to hold her family together. 

*Short Review*

I picked this book solely because of the author. I really enjoyed her book, Dare Me (click here for review), so I went straight for this.  Abbott has an interesting style of writing as she takes down difficult topics involving teenagers and adults. Unlike Dare Me, this book wasn’t as intense or surprising. It dragged with Katie’s monotone voice and overall dipping into the past to explain the present wasn’t as successful as other books.

I didn’t care for this book. It was missing intensity, strong emotion and a better scenery or at least a better description of the scenery.  The characters didn’t provide the need support and it came off as if they were there for show. Their involvement wasn’t strong enough to keep the book moving.

The book was okay. It could have been way better than what it was. I was disappointed in this read but I there is another book by this author that is in my TBR pile. So, no hard feelings.

2 Pickles

Book Review: We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley

Doubleday Published June 28, 2016 352 Pages
Doubleday
Published June 28, 2016
352 Pages

Catherine West lives the life of the beautiful and perfect. She owns a Manhattan apartment in elite area. She collects fine art, sees a trainer and gets a massage every week. An every now and then she sees her mother and sister on the upper east side. 

But after two failed engagements, Catherine is lonely. One night at an art gallery, she meets William Stockton. He is everything she could have wished for. So when she discovers his parents were friends with hers, nothing could go wrong.

That is until she mentions him to her mother, although suffering from Alzheimer’s, Elizabeth recognizes the bad in William and tells Catherine to stay away. But will Catherine dig up the past or continue to live her perfect life with any regard. 

This book is unique. It is in the sense that the main character doesn’t really learn anything. Her money defines her and when she in fear of losing that money her character shifted. I felt that by the end of the book, she was the same person but in a different circumstance.

Catherine had zero personality. She had no real life to her even when things between her and William got serious I didn’t see a spark. However, despite this I thought there was a pretty good story. There was predictability within William but I was surprised when everything came to light. I did feel the story was drawn out and that is probably more so because of Catherine.

My other issue with this book,was that for a lot of the chapters with nothing was going and it was the same monotone voice. The crazy thing is despite all of these complaints regarding this book, I enjoyed it for the most part. It wasn’t a bad read. It was creative to talk about a woman who has it all but at same time is missing something in modern day NYC. The mystery of digging around her mother’s past was good as well.

But there could have been much more heat and color to the book. I literally saw everything in black and white. So rating this book was hard because it can be a solid 3 or a solid 2.5.

Overall,

Undecided. 

Book Review: A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes

Zondervan Published Aug. 6, 2010 223 Pages
Zondervan
Published Aug. 6, 2010
223 Pages

Mary Rudine also known as Mister has been always been part of the church. Attending youth club and performing in the Choir, her attendance has been a part of her life forever. But then she meets Trey and the church becomes less of a priority.

Another Mary in a previous time is preparing for her wedding but when an angel appears one night and tells her that she is to give birth, as a virgin, Mary is confused and finds herself in a struggle. 

Drawn to the story of Mary, Mister rediscovers her faith in God.

This book is written in verse and I love that about it. The reason I picked this book is because it has been a while since I’ve read a Nikki Grimes book.

But I had difficulties with this read and it had nothing to do with the face that it was written in verse. Something was missing from the overall story and it had something to do with Mister. There wasn’t enough personality and my biggest issue is she fell a little too easy. Yes, I know she is young but considering the premise of the story, I thought it would be a little bit harder for her to fall.

I also had an issue with the voice. It didn’t seem to change throughout the story until the end. It was the first time in the book, I felt real emotion from Mister and I actually felt for her. I would have loved more of that throughout the book.

Finally, the back and forth between Mister’s story and Mary’s story was a good element. It shows a viewpoint that you don’t think of in regards to Mary’s story and I thought that was cool.

Overall, the story was alright. I wanted more emotion and depth.

2 Pickles.

Book Review: Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

Feiwel & Friends To be published Oct. 4, 2016 336 Pages
Feiwel & Friends
To be published Oct. 4, 2016
336 Pages

Flynn’s girlfriend, January has disappeared and the cops are asking him questions he cannot answer. And her friends are telling stories, he has never heard of. Determined to discover the truth about his girlfriend, Flynn hunt down answers but with a secret of his own, he has to tread lightly.

 *Short review*

I am disappointed in this book. Not just from the summary but from the book itself. It started off really really good. But then the author feel right into the predictability. And he didn’t just fall slowly, but the downfall was really fast.

I hated Flynn. He was a jerk and he had no right even close to complain about January when he was using the mess out of her. He had this sense of entitlement as her boyfriend; he had no right and he pissed me off.

What made the story predictably was Flynn’s secret and what happened to January. It was such a typical turn of events. Yeah, it had its little oh moments but there wasn’t many. The way it was written despite the predictability was really good. I kept reading the book but it was a struggle because I knew what was going to happen. Roehrig has talent as a writer but this book would be best for someone who has never read this type of story before.

I can’t say much about the characters because they were predictable as well as the romance.

Overall, I would have probably enjoyed this book better if I read this before I read any other disappearing act stories.

 

2 Pickles

NetGalley Review: The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough

Jo Fletcher Books Originally Published 2009 144 Pages
Jo Fletcher Books
Originally Published 2009
144 Pages

A woman watches her father take his last breathes and while doing so, she relives the past week and thinks about what brought her family together and what tore them apart. As the middle child in a family of five, she has secrets; one in particularly that keeps her at her childhood home and that keeps her waiting for the darkness. 

*Short review for a short novel*

Dangggg Tanya, what’s with you and these short stories?!!? I know I have said constantly that I do not enjoy short stories and yet I keep reading them. I don’t know why I do it but I do it.

So anyway, I actually really like Ms. Pinborough’s writing, which is why I requested this book. She can paint a pretty picture or in this case a chilling picture.

I liked this short read but I did feel it was very dull and drawn out. This feeling had nothing to do with the fact that from beginning to end, we are waiting for a man to die. It comes from the lack of color from the narrator or even the other characters. I did not expect it in present time but more so from the past. It was even hinted at one point but the that was it. I get the whole point of this book is to be despair but some kind of life would have made this book perfect and much more chilling.

Beyond, this I liked the creativity shown in this book. I like what the author was able to draw out of the story and I really loved how she made this much bigger than simply a daughter watching her father die alone. There is so much depth to this 144 page story, you can’t help but be in awe.

The pace could be improved but I am not complaining that much. Overall,

3 Pickles