Race To The Finish Line by Aisha Yusuf
I requested this book from Netgalley and I’m glad I did so!
With a cover like that, there was no way I wasn’t requesting this book from Netgalley. I know that this is the work of a very young author and her craft will improve with experience. However, I’d like to point out a few things that kept me from enjoying this book.
Firstly, the characters took too long to figure out certain things that were plain to the reader immediately. Secondly, with the danger that the protagonist was in, it seems weird that her parents allowed her to continue going to school, roam around in the neighborhood, and so on. Thirdly, the book could have been much shorter than it was and still retain all the important bits.
What I did like was how the author portrayed the discriminatory characters. One of them was the protag’s teacher. Even though his explanation made no sense — and he was trying to teach a POC what a book on racism was about — he felt he was in the right. Sometimes, no matter what you say to a racist doesn’t make any difference to their erroneous beliefs or how nonsensical they’re being.
One of the quotes or rather phrases from the book made me laugh and stood out. At one point, the protagonist exclaimed, “The caucasity.”
The Slaughtered Lamb Bookstore and Bar by Seana Kelly
I don’t know why I went into this book expecting it to wow me. It may have been the way it began because I thought it was going to be about a kickass female character. She had been surviving on her own for a while with unsavory characters hunting for her, after all. The protagonist was also a rape survivor — don’t get me started on how I hate when authors use rape as a backstory for characters. As soon as she entered into a relationship, though, she turned into a helpless damsel-in-distress. What’s more, she knew her life was in danger yet she kept on roaming around at random. If you know you cannot handle the threat, being out and about wouldn’t be a smart thing to do, would it? All that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy this book. It is a fun, fluffy, and quick read.
Thriller: Stories To Keep You Up All Night by James Patterson and Others
A collection of 25-30 stories, which were less horrifying than full of suspense. Most of the contributors chose to submit a story about a character from their ongoing series. The introductions at the beginning of each story helped put it in the right context for readers who aren’t following those series. Some were good, others were just average stories. In all, this was an entertaining read but not one that I’d remember five years from now.
Black Panther, Vol. 1: A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze, and Others
So, I’ve seen the movie and the character Black Panther seemed to me like someone who balanced action and deep thought well. This volume, though, turned him into someone who didn’t act but just thought about stuff. It’s pretty to look at and the only thing it imparts to the reader is that Wakanda is in trouble from multiple fronts. That’s it! Disappointing and boring.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Ugh. The story began grossing me out as soon as I read the first sentence. I get that it was meant to do that but still believe I should mention that. At first, the writing seemed as beautiful as the plot was hideous. I continued to read with patience. But that changed soon. The pacing began to bother me as did the overly long descriptions that served no purpose. In any case, I can say that I read a classic and lived to tell the tale.
London Falling by Paul Cornell
This series comes highly recommended by an author whose work I like, i.e., Ben Aaronovitch. So, first the pluses. Cornell has the horrifying descriptions down pat. He also makes London come alive in the pages of this book. All the police procedural details and how cops who have no idea about the supernatural unravel the mystery was done as well. The author also injects appropriate doses of humor in the right places. The main characters are diverse and behave as realistically as any group of such drastically different people would have.
Now, for the negatives. All of the above don’t come together well. They make you feel like you’re reading two different books. The pacing is another issue — most things happen right at the end of the story. And finally, the individual characters don’t come off as individual at all. They sound and behave in the same way.
That being said, I would like to give the next book a read before I give up this series.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Sure, it’s YA but it features diverse characters and non-Western setting, I thought. Those are about the only things I appreciated about this book! The rest is a cliched mess with the chosen one being the last surviving everything and falling for a brooding, misunderstood guy. I kept telling myself they’re teens after every stupid decision they made, just so I wouldn’t pull a DNF. But then I found out what a spoilt, spineless a-hole the protagonist’s love interest is. The repetitive prose, inner monologues, and the unnecessary depiction of violence downgraded the reading experience further. And the fact that there is a whole other second book to read brings me no peace of mind!
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro
Set in Venice, a struggling musician meets an American singer in this story. The singer is about to separate from his wife for reasons that are sad but seem practical to the couple.
Come Rain or Come Shine
You know how you sometimes feel better when you meet a friend who has it worse than you do? That’s the plot of this story.
An aspiring musician meets a roving musician couple and finds new inspiration.
An underachieving musician reluctantly undergoes plastic surgery for that special celebrity makeover.
An up and coming cellist meets a woman who claims she can help him unwrap his talent.
As I read these stories, the author’s ability to weave magic with his words was easily evident. He could take everyday events and turn them into interesting stories that you’d see to their conclusions. That said, these stories were incredibly unmemorable. In fact, I had to hunt through the reviews by other readers just to remember the plots of each of these five stories. The hidden meaning in each story is deep and thought-provoking but the plot itself? Not so much. So, yeah, I’m confused about whether I like the author’s work enough to read his full fledged novels or not.
Silver Silence by Nalini Singh
I have a soft spot for Bear shifter romances, so I liked this one much better than the last few books. The leads were good together and the Bear’s sneakiness was fun to read about. The novel also marks the start of a spin-off series, which is set in the same world as the original one. I’m certain the subsequent books will follow the same formula and that’s fine. The spin-off is more of a new plotline than another series.