Showing posts with label magic realism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label magic realism. Show all posts

Monday, 14 November 2016

Mini-Review! - God Help the Child by Toni Morrison










Title: God Help the Child

Author: Toni Morrison

Genre: Contemporary, Magic Realism* (*ish)

Amazon: UK - USA





Verdict:

This was a pretty damned awesome book.

And, I'm told, by pretty much everyone, that Toni Morrison's other books are even better - so I'm totally going to check out more!

This follows Bride, who always felt unloved by her mother, Sweetness, as she tries to deal with her falling-apart relationship with boyfriend Booker.

It's really quite difficult to explain what this book is about - except childhood, and how it relates to everything else.

Because Bride's childhood, Booker's, even Sweetness', affects everything that comes after. And in Rain, the girl adopted by the hippie couple, we see the current face of a traumatised child.

Huge warning guys: child abuse is a big theme here.

There is child abuse of every type in this book - emotional, physical, and sexual. There's even some child murder.

It's handled well - but I figured I'd let you know in case that's going to be a problem for you.

There's also a butt-tonne of swearing.

Generally though? This book is fantastically well written, and infinitely readable.








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Monday, 7 November 2016

Review! (Graphic Novel Edition!) - Who Killed Kurt Cobain?: The Story of Boddah by Nicolas Otero













Title: Who Killed Kurt Cobain?: The Story of Boddah

Author: Nicolas Otero

Genre: Graphic Novels, Magic Realism, Contemporary, Biography, Non-Fiction* (*ish)

Release Date: 8th November

Amazon: UK - USA



A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.

If anyone who has bipolar disorder and/or drug/alcohol addiction problems has reviewed this book, let me know and I will provide a link to your review.

This is weird. And probably needs to come wrapped in a 'trigger warning' protective plastic cover.

That said, this was interesting - so let's get down to this review, shall we?




Premise:

Kurt Cobain's suicide note was addressed to Boddah.

Now, given the amount of conspiracy theories over Cobain's death, Boddah's identity and role has been discussed a lot.

The simple truth, though, is that Boddah was Cobain's imaginary friend as a kid.

This is the story of Nirvana, Kurt, Courtney, and Kurt's death - as told by Boddah.





Best bits:

Otero seems to honestly feel for Cobain - which stops the book from feeling as exploitative as I feared it would. (It still does feel disrespectful though - see next section.)

We're encouraged to empathise with a man who was, at heart, actually very childlike and lost.

I felt like the image of Kurt given here was one of an actual human being - as opposed to the caricature or legend that he's become since his death.

This book is also down-right heart-breaking. You are right there with Courtney screaming at Kurt to open the bathroom door, watching him as he slowly self-destructs, and unable to help.

The artwork is serviceable - and the boldness of the more experimental hallucinatory-type panels was sometimes breath-taking.

The way Boddah seems so realistic is impressive. He loves Kurt; when Kurt is gone... the panels where Boddah is left without him are just heart-breaking.





Not so great bits:

Things drawn graphically in this book that people need to be aware of:
  • drug-use (including heroin injection and joint smoking)
  • sex
  • child abuse (physical, emotional)
  • guns (and a suicidal fascination with them)
  • attempted suicide
  • drying-out in rehab
  • self-harm (I think... not 100%, I might be misremembering - a lot happened in this book)
  • hallucinations
  • childbirth
  • suicide - including a VERY graphic image of Kurt's dead body.
There's also swearing - but, to be honest, if you can get beyond the things listed above, swear-words aren't going to bother you.

The question of respect for both the living and the dead is a difficult one in this book.

Honestly? (And you guys know I'm always honest with you.) I found it quite disrespectful.

I sincerely doubt that anyone bothered to get Courtney Love's permission to draw her explicitly having sex with her late husband - and that's NOT OK. It's just not.

Likewise, I doubt permission was obtained from any of Cobain's family to show the final distressing panel of his dead body. Again, that's NOT OK.

I DO NOT THINK THE SHOCK-VALUE IS WORTH HURTING PEOPLE. If these were fictional characters, maybe it would be different. But they're not.

You're dealing with REAL people here - have some f**king respect, please!

I felt like Kurt's mental health problems weren't really explained. We got one or two blink-and-you'll-miss-them references to his bipolar disorder, and that is it.

Now, given that Kurt Cobain committed suicide, and there's a chance that Boddah was a hallucination brought on by the bipolar (or, indeed, a hallucination brought on by the drugs, or a combination of the two,) some attention to how his illness will have impacted on both his general mental state, and his susceptibility to drug and alcohol addiction, would have been a good idea.




Verdict:

It was interesting. It was readable. It was heart-breaking.

But there were also issues - and one's which can't be ignored; so give it a read if you want to, honestly, it's pretty fascinating, but do it with your eyes wide open.















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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Month In Review(s) - October 2016

October is over!!! And I'm sure most of you are currently stuffed with sweets and/or chocolate from Halloween.

So, without further ado my dearest nerdlets - let's get this wrap-up started!









October was a pretty cr*ppy month for me, depression-wise, but I'm lucky enough to have a) family, b) The Bestie, and c) all of you guys.

Seriously, I appreciate you guys a butt-tonne! You make me smile :)





And even though someone who I once considered cool - a fellow bookworm in fact - unfollowed me when I tweeted about LGBTQ+ things, the number of people actually doing that has reduced from what was happening last month.

This is possibly because I've put Sexually Fluid/Queer on my Twitter bio - so the a*shole bigots probably aren't following me to begin with.






And the very lastest day of this month saw my two-year blog anniversary! And with over 40k pageviews over all, and over 7k pageviews this month, DORA is still going strong (and I'm so surprised and happy, you honestly wouldn't believe it!)






So, to the books I reviewed this month:




Young Adult




Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley - historical fiction, LGBTQ+ (F/F)




Adult




Star-Shot by Mary-Ann Constantine - magic realism*, sci-fi* (*ish)



Comics/Graphic Novels





Bread and Butter #1 - contemporary

Monday, 31 October 2016

Review Time! (& GIVEAWAY! [closed]) - Star-Shot by Mary-Ann Constantine













Title: Star-Shot




Author: Mary-Ann Constantine

Genre: Magic Realism*, Sci-Fi* (*ish)


Amazon: UK - USA








A few starting notes:

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers, Seren Books, in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Well dearest nerdlets, today is my 2-year blog anniversary!

And, to celebrate, Welsh publishers Seren Books (Seren means star - yay, shiny!) have agreed to give-away 1 copy of Star-Shot by Mary-Ann Constantine.

So let's get on with this!






Premise:

In a version of the Welsh capital that is almost, but not quite, our own, something strange is happening in the city of Cardiff.

Pockets of silence are appearing - areas which seem to muffle, mute, and eliminate sound.

Against this backdrop, the winding nature of everyday life draws a group of people together; an unlikely group, who are, in one way and another, affected by the silence - can they also have an effect on it?






Best bits:

This whole book has an uber-cool atmospheric deal-y going on; like a fable or a myth, only with more of a contemporary setting, and it works very well. :)

I quite like the quick slips between Welsh and English.

This switch between the two is done well enough that non-Welsh-speaking folks will be able to follow without taking an intensive language course, but it still allows Welsh to have a place in what is otherwise an English novel.

The sense that this is a novel weaved together so that it fits as it's supposed to is strong throughout, and the language is languid and gentle without verging on boring.

I also love the way a multi-character cast is juggled so well here, never forgetting about anyone along the way.







And is there diversity? Yes, my nerdlets, there is.

We have named PoC characters who become more integral as we continue through the plot, and we also have a fair whack of disability representation on top.

I love that Lina, a Syrian refugee, is smart, clever, resourceful, and a scientist, despite the fact that she works as a cleaner in Cardiff.

And, I won't give it away because of spoilers, but there's a pretty damn good message here too.







Not so great bits:

None of the dialogue is in speech marks, it's all just part of the other text.

While this is clearly a clever way of showing the disconnect and muffling quality of the silence, it's not practical and led to me like: was this out loud? Who said that?

Yes, it's nice to be smart and experiment. No, it's not too big a deal. Yes, it is irritating.







Also, there was less of a sense of place than I was expecting.

I know Cardiff - yes, the features are Cardiff (with some of those quirky alternate-reality exceptions) but to me it didn't feel like Cardiff. 

This may just be me - I'm notoriously bad at sense of place in books (and in life... I get lost a lot...)

Also, while I liked the bilingual elements, your average day in Cardiff will involve a lot less Welsh language than this book suggests.








Verdict:

OK, this book is weird - but it's a good weird.

It's the kind of weird which keeps you reading, keeps you guessing, and is just my cup of tea (or coffee - I'm one of the few British people who can't stand tea. I know, she's a rebel.)















Giveaway details


OK guys - it's as simple as this: RT this tweet and FOLLOW my Twitter account, and you could be getting your very own copy of Star-Shot, courtesy of publishers Seren Books.



Open from 9.30 GMT on 31st October 2016 to 9.30 GMT on 1st November 2016. Open Internationally.




Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Month In Review(s) - August 2016

August. Ahhhh, August.





(I can't resist a happy-dog-in-sunglasses pic!)




August was actually a pretty good month for me.

Despite how difficult my anxiety made it, I came out as sexually fluid; and that felt great ;)






Blog-wise, less impressive stats than last month. But they were still pretty damn good :)

Over 4k page-views this month, reaching over 25k page-views over-all!!!!!!!!!!! XD I mean - wow! 25k!!!!!! XD XD

(Actually I've now reached over 26k, but 25 is such a round and shiny number, lol!)

And I now have over 950 followers on Twitter.

Things've stagnated a little on BlogLovin' - but still trotting along with a handful of new followers this month :)



And shameless plug time!

The Bookish Diversity Link List 2016 is up and running.

Be sure to check it out, and let me know if you find anything I can add! (It's easier when people help me, lol.)




Kids




The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon - contemporary, magic realism





Young Adult



Switched by Amanda Hocking - fantasy, paranormal* (*ish)





Adult









Graphic Novels




Limbo, Volume 1 - fantasy*, horror*, crime* (*ish)
Kilala Disney Princess, Vol 1 - young adult, fantasy, manga, fairy tale, media tie-in






Saturday, 27 August 2016

Review Time! - The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon













Title: The Bone Sparrow

Author: Zana Fraillon

Genre: Kids, Contemporary, Magic Realism

Amazon: UK - USA






A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.

This book looked interesting and a little unusual - so I was like 'ooh! shiny!'

And you know what? Wow.






Premise:

Subhi was born in a refugee camp in Australia. He still lives there, with his mother and his sister.

Sometimes, the Night Sea brings Subhi gifts.

One day, it brings him a girl. A girl with a bone sparrow charm around her neck. A girl who can come and go as she pleases - an Outside girl.






Best bits:

I knew very, very little about the Rohingya before reading this book - I was aware that there were refugees from Burma/Myanmar in Australia, but that was about it.

While we're not given much background on the Rohingya here, other than that they're persecuted, the highlighting of their plight can only be a good thing.

Subhi is the crowning glory of this book. He is sweet, relatable, believable, and strong. He is incredible.












I also loved the way stories, memories, and the power of words, were treated in this book.

Subhi and Jimmie (the 'Outside' Australian girl,) bond over stories and a feeling that they can't create sense in the strange world that they live in.

So they create their own corner of calm, where stories seem more real than reality.

I liked that this book didn't shy away from that reality though - the poor conditions the Rohingya are living in, the way they both long for home and fear it, the feeling of hopelessness that pervades in the camp, turning slowly into anger...

I think it's important that books are bold enough to show the roughness of reality, while maintaining the hope and the heart that are shown here.







Not so great bits:

While I liked the story of Jimmie's persecuted Eastern European ancestors, I felt like it was a little unnecessary, and perhaps a tad constructed.

Do we really need to equate the Rohingya's suffering with that of persecuted white people in order to empathise? Perhaps so. But, if that's the case, we need to take a long hard look at what we're doing in this life.

I would've preferred the story of Subhi's mother - travelling with a small child and another on the way, not sure what was waiting ahead, but hoping that life would be better. Or the tale of Subhi's father, someone Subhi has never met, but hopes to meet one day.

I just feel like those stories would've felt more valid here.










The ending felt like it wasn't... well, ended enough.

There wasn't enough resolution of the various threads - at least, not for me, though I grant you that that's a personal thing.

I was also surprised - given that this is a kids' book - that the odd mild swear word sneaked in there. I don't have a problem with it - and it was perfectly acceptable in context, but I can see there being issues for some parents.

There's also some violence, mentions of 'suicide watch' etc. Again, totally understandable in context, but will be an issue for some.






Verdict:

This is a great book. A very human book about a little boy, and the stories he makes to make the world around him make more sense.











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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Month in Review(s) - June 2016

We're half-way through the year folks! Which is kind of rocking, really, because it means we're that much closer to Christmas.

(I love Christmas!)





Anyway, back to the summer-ish-ness of June, and I can honestly say I read a little bit of everything this month.










Plus it was a pretty fab month blog-wise: I reached over 750 Twitter followers, over 15k blog page-views (ARGH!!!!!) and over 30 Bloglovin followers.




AND JUNO DAWSON LIKED MY TWEET!!!!!!

(I'm a massive Juno Dawson fan - so this was kind of a fantabulously big deal to me.)






So catch up on all my reviews this month with this handy link-list (and I've added cover images, because I spoil you.)




Kids










Young Adult







These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly - Historical Fiction, Crime







Adult







Life Blood by V M Black - Romance, Paranormal, Vampires, Novella
Landline by Rainbow Rowell - Contemporary, Chick Lit, Magic Realism, Romance* (*ish)






Graphic Novels






Codename Baboushka, Vol: The Conclave of Death - Spy, Gangster, Thriller, Crime
Klaw, The First Cycle - Young Adult, Fantasy, Superhero*, Paranormal* (*ish - there are shifters of various types and somewhat of a superhero origin story.)