Book Review: American Street

Ibi Zoboi’s American Street is very nearly exactly what a YA novel should be.

The protaganist, Fabiola Toussaint, boards a plane from Haiti to the US along with her mother, planning to move to Detroit to live with family members. During a routine security check while changing planes in New York, Fabiola’s mother is detained by immigration officials and Fabiola’s left to go on to Detroit alone. There, Fabiola’s left to navigate her American cousins, a romance and her attempts to secure her mother’s release.

I have no experience as an immigrant – while I did complete a Study Abroad during college, I have lived my life as a citizen and resident of the country of my birth. I can’t speak – at all – to how real to life Fabiola’s experiences actually are. But I can say that the book felt so real to me – I felt as though the events could actually happen.

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Book Review – Attachments

Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments is completely, utterly ridiculous. I loved it away.

Attachments also happens to be the first Rowell novel I genuinely, wholeheartedly love. I’ve read Fan Girl,  Eleanor & Park and Carry On.  After a pretty rocky start, I ended up liking Carry On well enough. On the other hand, I found both Eleanor & Park and Fan Girl completely underwhelming.

Attachments, though? I love, love love it!

I’ve seen many folks make the argument that the novel’s premise is basically creepy and unrealistic. And they’re completely right!

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The Sun is Also a Star – Nicola Yoon

A while back, I read Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star.

By “a while back”, I mean I finished it in the first few days of January.

Yeah.

It’s been a while.

I enjoyed Yoon’s debut Everything, Everything – it was a bit too sweet and a bit too syrupy and so not me, but eh, I loved it anyway. Everyone needs the literary equivalent of a diabetic coma every now and again, right? Well, Everything, Everything was mine.  When I read that Nicola Yoon was releasing a new novel dealing with immigration, I was pretty sure that it’d be up my alley. When The Sun is Also a Star turned out to be one of Book of the Month Club’s picks, I thought it was simply kismet and made it my selection.

To my sadness and frustration, I didn’t like it as much as I’d hoped.

Yoon is a competent, strong writer and she’s got great ideas and knows how to carry them out – I didn’t feel as though the novel were half-baked or un-done in some strange fashion.

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Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars

Sometimes, a novel will surprise you. That in and of itself isn’t really a surprise. What is a surprise is how the novel surprises you. Do you hate it when you thought you’d love it? Was it not as wonderful as you heard? Or was it better than your friends told you it was?

And, sometimes, the surprise is that it’s so much more than you ever anticipated.

9780062476722_e9a8cWhen I requested an ARC of Miranda Emerson’s Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars, about 85% of the thought process that went into that decision was based on the over. I mean, look at it – it’s lovely!

The other 15% percent was the synopsis – it seemed like it’d be a fun romp. I only expected what I was promised – a group of people, lead by the titular Anna Treadway traipsing around London, investigating the disappearance of an actress, Iolanthe Green, who may or may not wish to be found. What I found within the pages was much more than this.

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A Pretty Good “Kiss”

28965429I recently read Natasha Lester’s A Kiss for Mr. Fitzgerald and I thought it was a pretty is fun, frothy ride. Yes, it so very, very soap opera-ish, but damn if it wasn’t a great soap opera.

I feel glad, I guess to have read A Kiss for Mr. Fitzgerald as it brought me some fun when I needed it. This was a easy, breezy read that I still found pretty engaging despite the genre not really being my speed.

This book is, I think, marketed as Historical Fiction, but in my opinion, it doesn’t really fit that into that genre nicely. When I think of historical fiction, I think of works where the setting completely informs everything about the world and story – the language, the plot, the characterization, the very fiber of the threats of the story. The book is seeped in its time and can’t truly be separated from it. It’s not possible to have that book without that time. Continue reading

I’ve Made a Huge Mistake: Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen

There is often much handwringing regarding adults reading YA novels. As someone who reads YA for kicks but who mostly reads classics and literary fiction, I can understand both sides.

There is interesting, clever and fairly well done YA. There’s also a lot of terrible YA. I do think, in general that people ought to read what they like as there’s far too little reading going on in general. YA is fun and can serve as a pretty nice getaway from some heavier adult literature. But I also don’t think that it’s best to just limit yourself to YA as an adult. There’s a lot of nuance in adult literature (in general) that is absent in YA (in general). But mostly, I fall back to “Read what you want, guys!”

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Sweetbitter

After finishing “Sweetbitter” and thinking on it for a while, I think I understand why there’s such a sharp divide in how people feel about it. People seem to absolutely love or loathe this book.

I feel both feelings at the same time.

There’s a lot of beauty in “Sweetbitter”. Danler absolutely knows how to turn a phrase and how to set a scene. I found her words melodic. I’ve noticed often that people tend to complain about her descriptions  of food not being very “culinary.” They aren’t, but I’m not sure why people wanted them to be. As far as I can discern, this novel is not meant to evoke 26192646-1memories of strong culinary loves. It’s simply a roman à clef and a bildungsroman of sorts. This is a novel about a young woman moving to New York and working in a restaurant. That’s it.

The few descriptions of the culinary world and the food itself are heady and and crisp – they’re enough for what’s meant to be there. It think it’s fairly obvious that the focus of the novel isn’t particularly to ensnare you in endless descriptions of food and culinary adventuring, but to immerse you in the mind of this young woman who happens to be working at this restaurant. Much of the story could function the same if it were removed from its setting and placed elsewhere – like, for instance, an advertising agency or a private school.

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A Small Indiscretion

A few months ago, I won a Goodreads giveaway. I’d been waiting to read Jan Ellison’s”A Small Indiscretion” for months – it was simply something which kept getting pushed back to the back of my To Be Read list.20382027

So, I was excited when I won and pleased as I’d now move the book farther up my reading list. As I was in the middle of a few books, I didn’t get to it right away. Finally, after some time, I did.

I find “A Small Indiscretion” to be a difficult novel to consider.

The novel centers around Annie Black and hops between her misspent youth, living in England and her more stable adulthood in San Francisco.

The book is narrated in Annie’s voice. This is her story that she tells us. The catalyst for this divulging of her secrets is the rather serious accident in which her son was injured.

I found it somewhat difficult to keep my attention on this novel. In theory, this is just my sort of book – it’s all about the internal turmoil caused by silly actions.

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In Defense of ‘Mockingjay’

It’s been years since Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” trilogy ended. As such, it’s been a while since the final book, “Mockingjay”, was released.

If I remember correctly, upon it’s release, “Mockingjay” received a fairly mixed reception. Many hardcore fans felt nothing but hatred and disdain for the book, along with a healthy dose of anger at Collins for writing what she did. ‘She’d let them down’, they’d say. I recall people saying that the book read as though it Collins simply threw it together, simply to be done with the behemoth with had eaten her life. Many people said that Katniss was no longer a badass heroine.

My feelings differ. Continue reading