Friday, April 28, 2017

Throwback Read: Tanith / Wolf-Woman

Tanith / Wolf-woman, Sherryl Jordan

Jordan enchants me.  I can't help it, okay?  I love her stories!  They're like these heavily-weighted fables with heroines willing to enrage entire nations if they feel the cause is true!  Tanith is no exception.  Also:
  • I enjoy Jordan's writing.  I think she strikes a strong description-action balance.
  • I know Jordan is willing to "go there."  I can't always peg the direction things will go because she's willing to let characters hurt, willing to let things be hard, willing to tackle things I think many YA authors shy away from.  It makes the story more compelling.
  • There are sexual references but no sex scenes.
  • No swearing.
  • There are references to violence and brutality.
  • Yes, it probably helps that there are wolves.  I love. 
The tone, setting and set-up reminded me of Ferren and the Angel (but more real), Clan of the Cave Bear (with less sex!) and Pointe Claw (only less confronting). If you enjoyed Winter of Fire, you'll probably like this one. 

Ryan -- I know, I know, you want to borrow it tonight.  Hold your horses!

NB:  I prefer the cover, above, but the title Tanith.  My copy of the book has the right title and the wrong cover image *grumble grumble;*

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Inside the Mind of a Sociopath

The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
Wow.  This is an unforgettable book.   It is immersive, confident and...dark;
  • Because the story is told from the perspective of a sociopath, the narrative includes disregard for laws, social mores and the rights of others.  It means, as a reader, spending time with someone who fails to feel remorse and tends to display violent behaviour.  Suffice to say, you'll be reading about unpleasant things in this book. For many, spending any time inside a disturbed mind -- no matter how intriguing -- holds no appeal.  For me it was uncomfortable...but I'd be more concerned if it wasn't.  I think it's a highly memorable, thought-provoking, interesting perspective. 
  • In terms of form, the switching tenses are a tad irritating (action occurs in the present but thoughts and impressions seem to be in the past -- loosely; the inverse of what you might expect if it were a recount, say).  
  • There is swearing and violence (including cruelty to animals).  There are crude insertions now and then which fuel the unpleasant atmosphere.  The narrator is also a misogynist.
  • The opening gambit of the story promises horrors, which are delivered as measured, macabre reveals throughout.  I read for the reveals -- given in flashbacks -- and I read fast.  I found it very compelling.
  • I was surprised by a number of things when they occurred (such as how late The Wasp Factory's details were explained), but having finished the work, many if not all of these choices seem right and justified.
I wouldn't call this a book I loved but I would say it is a book that is very well done and interesting.  The isolation and seemingly rightness of wrong logic reminded me of Lord of the Flies, and some of the retelling shared aspects of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time -- in that both allow access to minds rarely granted the fore.  I liked it more than Lord of the Flies.  If you enjoy dark and different narration, and these two titles appeal/ed to you, The Wasp Factory needs to make your TR list.  

NB:  I read this on the strong recommendation of a young woman from church.  I was horrified as I turned each page, bearing her in mind as an enthusiast.  When I finished and reported as much to her, she said, "Oh, I've never read it!"  *blink blink*  It was her mother who loves the book, and she'd recommended it on that basis.  And her mother enjoying it makes perfect sense.  I would not recommend this for YA at all.  NA, maybe.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon
I very much enjoyed this.  It was intriguing, well-paced, and a story worth telling.  It was so encouraging to find a hero in need for support receiving it, but it was made stronger for illustrating how flawed the people who love us can be.  There is a fair amount of heavier swearing, which is unfortunate, and I was deeply saddened by a few things...but I ultimately felt hopeful and happy for having read it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Class-flipper Romance
The Winner's Curse, Maree Rutkoski
I really really like the characters in this story, and found the first book in this series to be a serious page-turner, despite finding the initial set-up a little off and the historical exposition a tad clunky.  I was sucked in by good writing and enjoyable dialogue.

The Winner's Crime, Marie Rutkoski
Oh, how this sequel pained me!  AH!   I was happy to spend more time with characters I cared about, and the book was goooood (if it makes me hurt for them, surely it is!), but it wasn't as compelling as the first.

The Winner's Kiss, Marie RutkoskiThe torture continues; the delayed grat is very real!  This is a punchy finish to the story with some added depth to the world and politics.  I really like some choices these characters make, but cannot comment further without spoiling.  This book is the first to contain a euphemistic sex scene in the three.  All have violence.

You'll see a different set of covers on GoodReads (gag).   I prefer these (the second the least though).
This series is a good pick-me-up for fans of The Selection and Throne of Glass.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Three Confronting YA Titles

None of these were as not-me as What girls are made of, but they all included content that was more confronting or graphic than I care for...they aren't books I'd buy or readily recommend, but if you love more challenging, raw titles, these could be just what you're looking for;
Pointe Claw, Amber J. Keyser
Examining connections between repressed animal qualities in dance and in people (and of course repressed animals themselves) has merit, but the graphic details of sexual exploration between these two young women was too much for me. 
Release, Patrick Ness
At times Ness reminded me of Maggie Stiefvater (mostly in his interweaving of the everyday and supernatural)...but the pronounced emphasis on the sexual was again too much.  It was also pretty crass and had a lot of swearing.

Finding Nevo, Nevo Zisin
Of these three books, I think this is the one that holds the most value.  I am glad I read it.  I think it's important to read from a range of perspectives and attempt to develop greater empathy and compassion as a result.  And what a brave thing this is!  It is so sad that Nevo has to explain Nevo to anyone.  I wish the world would let people be whoever they want; express themselves however they want; drop the rigid expectations!  AH!  For all these wishes, I found this hard to read without being angry.  I really enjoyed some sections and I think I gained a little insight into Nevo and transgender youth as a result of reading this.  I wouldn't read it a second time.  I wish people could just LOVE, dang it!

Review copies received from Walker.
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