A long time ago I decided never again to read crime fiction written by a man. I was so disappointed by the James Patterson "Women's Murder Club" bookA long time ago I decided never again to read crime fiction written by a man. I was so disappointed by the James Patterson "Women's Murder Club" book that I read (I actually felt it was worse than Patricia Cornwall!), that I decided that was it. No more male writers.
But there came a day when I needed a heck of a lot of mental distraction on my (hour-long) drive home from work, and when I went to the library I discovered that they had four Mosley audio books and another four or five *books* of his. And as it was the only thing that looked vaguely interesting in the audio book section - and because it would count for 50books_poc - I decided to give Mosley a chance.
Mosley's writing, and his character Easy Rawlins, remind me of Sara Paretsky and VI Warshawski, a favourite writer/character duo that I've been sorely missing of late. They've got the rough edges, the gritty cities, the edge to their stories that other writers don't quite match.
Mosley is clearly a notch or two above James Patterson, although I don't know that I'd trust him to write a female pov character. His female characters are all just a little too much the sexual object, and not quite enough human being. (That said, I loved both Etta Mae and Shirley... and think either of them would have been the making of Easy.) I found myself liking and admiring Easy quite a bit: despite how much he despised himself, and despite the truth of his background. And I certainly did enjoy the resolution of the mystery.
(Whether it's Mosley, or the rhythm used by the reader on the audio book, the odd thing is I can hear that same rhythm echoing through the words I write in this review. The rise and fall of that rich voice that I loved listening to for just over a week, morning and evening, to and from work.)
I don't want to read (or listen to) too much Mosley too fast. I don't want to risk Patricia Cornwall syndrome. (I read every Cornwall book a housemate of mine owned in a single weekend while I was procrastinating on my honours thesis. Reading that many at a single gulp exposed the lack of creativity that Cornwall had in her storylines, and I've never brought myself to read another one since.) So I'll leave it a while before I pick another one up. But one day I certainly will. Especially those audio books....more
This is down the list somewhat: I want to read "Saving Francesca" first, for example. But I *love* "Alibrandi" and I've been meaning to read MarchettaThis is down the list somewhat: I want to read "Saving Francesca" first, for example. But I *love* "Alibrandi" and I've been meaning to read Marchetta's other works /sometime/......more
**spoiler alert** Before I'd even finished reading this book, I'd gone onto the online catalogs of my public libraries (I belong to two) to find other**spoiler alert** Before I'd even finished reading this book, I'd gone onto the online catalogs of my public libraries (I belong to two) to find other Jacqueline Woodson books. It turns out that if I want any more I'll have to get them on inter-library loan, which will cost a couple of dollars each time. But I don't care. This book has been more than enough to convince me that I want to read other books by her. (And then when I read what Show Way was about, well... that was the first one to go on the request list.)
If You Come Softly was meant to be a light read for me. A nice, YA romance, set in Manhattan, before I get properly stuck in to Doreen Kartinyeri My Ngarrindjeri Calling, which is a definite "heavy" read. And for the majority of the book it was just that (only with various interesting observations about names, pov, and just how wonderful the minor characters were.) Having reached the end, some of those comments feel a little petty (especially my confusion about names and pronunciation!)
I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I loved this book before I reached the end. And having reached the end, I still love it, and still think it's brilliant and amazing, only for entirely different reasons.
There was so much in this that spoke to me: I've already quoted a passage from Miah's point of view to Miriam. There are bits from both Miah and Ellie's point of view that I feel really speak to the LJ "RaceFail" conversations at the moment. I would love to quote them at length (and may do so).
As for the ending... SPOILERS HEREAFTER:
To me, it seems clear what happened to Miah (police shooting, because he didn't stop). And there's something in the fact that Ellie never mentions it that makes it all so much more real. Meanwhile, that Miah could be killed when he was so in love, so young, that just... tugs. Hurts. As does the fact that this "solved" the problem that they were dealing with: how to be together in spite of other people's opinions.
I wish they'd had more time. I wish I (as the reader) had had more time. There's no way her world can be the same again, and as much as I know that fixing the relationship with her sister before Miah was killed would have been Deus ex Machina, I wish they had. I wish Ellie still had Anne. Because I want to love Anne. But I want her to love and support Ellie. And I think there's now as irreparable a rift between Ellie and Anne as between Ellie and Marion.
There's *so* much in this book: the whole relationship between Ellie and Marion! That sense of abandonment, of never being able to feel totally safe... I loved that the families had their own issues. That nothing was entirely untangled, uncomplicated.
So basically, yeah. How do I love this book, let me count the ways. If I hadn't been reading it in public, I definitely would have cried my way through the last three chapters....more
Having read When my name was Keoko, which was the Korean point of view on the Japanese occupation of Korea, I then picked up this book, "So far from tHaving read When my name was Keoko, which was the Korean point of view on the Japanese occupation of Korea, I then picked up this book, "So far from the Bamboo Grove", the first in a two volume autobiographical novel series by Yoko Kawashima Watkins, a Japanese girl who grew up in Korea, the child of a member of the Japanese ruling class. When the war began to go badly for the Japanese, and the Korean Communist party/forces attack the Japanese colonialists, Yoko, her mother and sister leave and begin to walk south to Seoul. The bamboo grove where they once lived, in fact, gets very little time. As the story opens, their lives are already relatively hard (although I was glad to have the back story of Keoko , because it gives an angle that one just would NOT get simply from reading this. (Given that Kawashima was quite young at the time, this isn't exactly surprising).) There is basically just enough time to introduce Colonel Matsumura before the Kawashima family escapes. The brother, Hideyo, follows the women a week later, and for a great deal of the book the narrative is split between the two.
This is a very important book. It's the only one I know of at the moment that covers immediate post-war Japan, in English, for a YA audience. (Anyone with any recs, please provide!) I really appreciate the reminder that life in Japan was anything but easy post-war. (Because by the time I went to Japan, it all seemed so … repaired. And shiny.) So, yeah. The Kawashima family are refugees in a defeated Japan. And refugees are pretty much as low as you can get, especially from Korea, and post-war.
There were so many little moments of cultural reminder: of festivals and how birth dates are calculated and the realities of post-war life: it's just wonderful from that angle, and probably also wonderful from a plain old literary standpoint.
I'm very glad that I made the decision to make the Kawashima Watkins books a priority in my final weeks with this marvellous collection. ...more
This continuation of So far from the Bamboo Grove … took a while to impress. While I don't at all doubt the historicity of what Kawashima Watkins expeThis continuation of So far from the Bamboo Grove … took a while to impress. While I don't at all doubt the historicity of what Kawashima Watkins experienced, it sometimes all seemed too much. Mostly the attitudes of the Sagano girls, and that's despite having experience of bullying. But once I settled into it, (and was reminded that they were living in Kyoto, which apparently was not bombed during the war (which was why Mrs Kawashima left her daughters there while she journeyed north to her home town) I just kept being more and more impressed. It took a while, but by the end of the book I just loved it, and like So far from the bamboo grove, I actually think that it ought to be required reading for - well, pretty much everyone. Beyond the issue of post-war Japan, this book brings in homelessness in general. Sure, there's refugee issues, but the life this family went through: the discrimination and the horror of how Yoko was treated at Sagano? I can cope with almost everything else, but the stratification that came with being homeless? And not just homeless but living in a hospital and living under a bridge homeless. And oddly, the burakamin were still considered more lowly. Sigh re: the human tendency towards stratification.
I kind of wish these two books would be turned into movies. But, you know, good movies.
I was really thrilled to find this on the library shelf. I've heard a lot about Laurence Yep (and enjoyed another of his books, Lady of Ch'iao Kuo WarI was really thrilled to find this on the library shelf. I've heard a lot about Laurence Yep (and enjoyed another of his books, Lady of Ch'iao Kuo Warrior of the South, Southern China, A.D. 531, before I started the 50books_poc challenge). But we've mostly got his fantasy books, and I'm really not into dragons at the moment. And so I'd sort of given up on Yep for the moment. Until The Amah turned up. It's a ballet book! A genre I really adore!
There is so very much to recommend this book. Yep has a definite talent for getting inside the heads of girls: I really loved Amy, her frustrations with her mother, with Stephanie, with her brothers and sisters. All the characters, in fact (with the exception of the younger Chin children, and Amy's school friends other than Robin) were beautifully drawn. Amy's battles with her mother reminded me of, well, me in my early adolescence. Madame and Grandmother and Mr Sinclair had their individual scenes and sort of just leapt off the page.
Even though I'd seen it as a 'ballet book' it really isn't: we never see the performance of Cinderella Amy is practicing for - that's not the point of the story. But it's there, and it's what got me in. :-)
I really enjoyed this book, and I'm looking forward to reading Child of the Owl and hunting out more of the Golden Mountain Chronicles. And maybe someday when I'm feeling like reading about dragons......more
I've been reading Anno books since my early childhood. But this was one I didn't know, and more surprising than that - it had text! My Anno books neveI've been reading Anno books since my early childhood. But this was one I didn't know, and more surprising than that - it had text! My Anno books never had actual words in them...
As Anno says in his afterword, the title could well have been "How people living in the era of the Ptolemaic Theory saw their world". And I see why this one probably couldn't be done without some text. (My main feeling after reading through it the first time was "oh, if I knew more ancient history, I'm sure I'd see even more in this." Then I flipped the book over and re-read it, this time pretty much ignoring the text.)
The "Anno-figure" (if you've read his more common books you'll know what I mean) makes only one real appearance in this book, which is almost as odd as the text. In fact, he appears on the page where I finally noticed what was going on with the background - very clever. He then appears on the last few pages.
It's a beautifully drawn book. Everything made to look quite aged, and the pages just before and just after the endpapers are done beautifully subtly: at the beginning of the book, an angel is swinging the sun around the Earth: at the end, she now swings the Earth around the sun. I kind of wished there was more variety in the illuminated borders, but that's just because I wanted more designs to copy :-) ...more
This book won the Unaipon award for a first novel by an Indigenous writer. And boy, this was not an easy read for me. Or an easy listen.
(I started thThis book won the Unaipon award for a first novel by an Indigenous writer. And boy, this was not an easy read for me. Or an easy listen.
(I started this one as an audio book - because it was there, and because it’s even harder to find audio-books by non-white authors than paper books, especially in my most local library. But although the language sounded beautiful when read (and it was read by the author) the content was such that hearing it was hard, and I kept worrying that I would stumble over potentially triggery material.) So: when I was picking it up to recommence, I got the book instead, and that did make a difference.
Anyway: tough read. Mostly because of the subject matter – a lot of drug use, a lot of living in ways I wish people didn’t have to live (squatting, hitchhiking rides with truckies, the aforementioned drug use, dealing with racism on the police force (as well as in other places…) ~sigh~). From a 50books_poc point of view, it’s a fabulous, hits-you-over-the-head-and-buries-you-in-horror kind of book. There’s a deadly (and not in the colloquial sense) reality to this book; even though May’s willingness to cross the country, and walk thousands of kilometres along a riverbed seems to leap from ‘realism’ into magical realism.
On the other hand, this is a pretty deadly book (in the colloquial sense). As I said before, the language is amazing; words bubble over each other, tumbling faster and faster and merging together… the riverbed metaphor is … it fits the book, and May’s journey. This is a quest story, as well as a finding-the-way-home story, and although I’m not entirely convinced that it really is a YA book (themes, density, etc), it is good. Challenging, difficult, and dense; but good. ...more
This is the first beneficiary of my "prioritised reading program" in view of my upcoming departure from WHS. It's been on my to-read list for a long tThis is the first beneficiary of my "prioritised reading program" in view of my upcoming departure from WHS. It's been on my to-read list for a long time: it was probably one of the first to be added, back when I was compiling my 50books_poc lists.
It tells the story of a family in Korea during the Japanese occupation, modelled on the family of the author's parents. When the government orders that all Koreans are to take a Japanese name, Sun-hee is renamed Keoko. And yet the family form their Japanese names very carefully, resisting the government even while they follow the law. Further, the narrative only ever refers to Sun-hee, her brother Tae-yul, and the other family members by their Korean names. The Japanese name is only used in the mouth of Japanese characters, particularly officials.
It would be something of an understatement to say that I learned a lot from reading this book. I am ashamed to say that while I knew that China, particularly Manchuria, was invaded and ruled by Japan in the middle of the 20th Century, I actually hadn't picked up that Korea was in the same situation.
There is a lot of heartrending stuff in here, particularly about the way in which the Japanese government removed Korean identity. It's nothing new - changing names, forbidding the use of Korean language, either spoken or written; just what generations of colonising governments have done. And non-colonising governments. The book is dedicated to Park's parents, to whom she gives three names: their Korean name, their Japanese name, and an English/American name. Which I think was one of the sadest things in reading the whole book.
And yet, the strength shown by these characters, keeping secrets, making sacrifices, just keeping on living in the face of opression and discrimination and cruelty... that strength is phenomenal and inspiring. The story of Sun-hee's mother and the Rose of Sharon is one such story, another is that of Mrs Ahn's method of resistance.
This book will make me look rather more askance at some arguments about Japanese racism that I've seen about, though, I have to admit. I already took certain versions of "but that's not what we're talking about" with a pinch of salt, having known as I do a previous General Secretary of the Korean Protestant Church in Japan. But... yeah. I think the two main things I'm going to take away from this book are the erasure of identity through names and language, and the Kim family's small, quiet, but no less meaningful ways of resistance. Definitely worth the read, and I'm so glad I finally got around to it....more
Gorgeous, and as I have the other two in the trilogy, I hope to be reading the rest of the story fairly soon.
First point of note: Marvinder is featurGorgeous, and as I have the other two in the trilogy, I hope to be reading the rest of the story fairly soon.
First point of note: Marvinder is featured on the cover, with Edith (white girl) in the very background. The story is set around the partition of India, with a significant connection between Marvinder and her family with an English family (that of Edith).
Second point: it’s a beautiful story. I got completely pulled into this book (as shown by the fact that I want badly to immediately pick up the second book). Beautifully written, and fascinating. I picked it up initially because I’m interested in the end of the British Raj era of Indian history. This book has less of that (because of the focus on the partition and following) but is still a wonderful story, completely within the (potentially problematic) tradition of British YA writing.
I hope that Marvinder and Jaspal get back to India somewhere in the next couple books. Because the parts in India were so vivid. Which isn’t to say that the parts in the UK weren’t, but… there’s something about India. And I want to apologise if that’s a case of exoticising, but because of various family connections, India has held a fascination for me for most of my life.
Beautifully written, and I’m looking forward not only to reading the other books in the trilogy, but also Gavin’s other works, like Coram Boys. ...more