April 04, 2017
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
When I picked up this book, I needed escape. I was tired of politics, of satire, of real life tragedy. Thirty pages in and my skin began to tingle; I had been transported to a magical world of monsters, storytellers, gods, and warriors and it was just what I needed. Taylor sets her story in a magical city renamed 'Weep,' after the goddess of forgetfulness wipes away its memory. The cast of characters is extraordinary: Lazlo, the orphan child apprenticed by librarians, fascinated by the unseen city, and a gifted storyteller; Eril-Fane and Azareen, citizens of 'Weep,' victims of the gods, tortured by their past; the 'godspawn' children, trapped in the citadel above, waiting for a chance for vengeance; and Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares whose humanity is stronger than her godlike magic. The writing is simply gorgeous, as are the well-developed and thoughtful themes of humanity, of compassion, of justice. If you like fantasy, if you like writing that will take your breath away, if you want to turn pages late into the night, do not miss this book. It is magic. (Reposted with permission from Laurie's Lit Picks.)
And Laurie's not the only one who loves Strange the Dreamer:
"HOLY WOW. Fantasy lovers will eat this book up and won't want to wait for book two. I couldn't stop thinking about Lazlo, Sarai, and the city of Weep for days on end. The writing is mesmerizing and the story is captivating. Read this book when you have a solid day ahead; you'll stay up all night otherwise!" --Lauren at Village Books & Paper Dreams
A Colony in a Nation by Christopher L. Hayes
In this fascinating new book MSNBC anchor, Chris Hayes writes a scholarly yet engrossing new book looking at the various nuances of law and the explication of so-called 'order' in today's America. Borrowing the quote from Richard Nixon for his title, he explores the great divide in our country between the disenfranchised of our nation who still live as if in a separate colony, while the privileged 'nation' attempts to maintain the status quo. While he focuses on people of color, poverty and the inequities of the educational system also play a role. It begins in Ferguson, where Hayes was on the ground reporting the aftermath of the shooting of a young black man, Michael Brown. His insight into the past history not only of Ferguson, but also the surrounding areas, highlights information that is pivotal to the understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement. American history is used to inform the reader of past practices in law enforcement: the fall out of tariffs all the way to revolutionary times, the statistics of stop-and-frisk, the community policing movement, the 'broken windows' policy, and many more. Hayes also fully embraces his own white privilege and his Ivy-league background, honestly and provocatively displaying his own prejudices and forcing the reader to look in his or her own mirror. This is not a book for the reader who wants a fast, thrilling mystery, but it is a book for our time, a book we should all read, a book that will not only make you smarter, but will force you to ask questions of yourself and the rules of society. Do we want order or do we want to be safe? (Reposted with permission from Laurie's Lit Picks.)
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
For those of you who were first entranced by Lisa See's debut back in 2006 (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan), you will be happy to know...she's back, and I mean really back. I loved her first book, 'meh' on her second book, liked her Shanghai Girls series, and heartily disliked her latest, China Dolls. However, in her latest book due out in March 2017, Lisa See has hit another home run. This time, she sets her story in the tea mountains of rural China in 1989 where we first meet Li-yan, a little girl part of an ethnic minority group called the Akha. This community has never been touched by the modern world, with no electricity, a spiritualism based on nature, and strict traditional rules that go back thousands of years. The tale moves back and forth between Li-yan's life, and that of her daughter, adopted into an American family after a tragic decision forced upon the young mother by her culture group. As the novel delves into the secret and hidden world of the tea trade, it exposes the corruption, the wealth, and the fascinating details of how tea is not only grown and then fermented, but marketed and sold to the greedy collectors. I read voraciously and ceaselessly, and finished with a satisfaction I had not felt for quite some time in See's novels. What a pleasure to not only be entertained, but to take a peek into another world and their ancient traditions. (Reposted with permission from Laurie's Lit Picks.)
Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister
Perfect timing for a historical fiction that highlights a bad-ass woman, doing a man's job, and kicking ass. Oh...and it is based on the real woman. Many of us have heard of the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency, born in Chicago, and hired by presidents, railroads, and banks to recover stolen goods or track down criminals. However, did you know they hired women? Kate Warne, the main character and real-life widow, applied and was hired as the first woman detective, ultimately heading a department of women investigators. Macallister's story covers Kate's first cases, the discrimination of the men, the attempted assassination of Lincoln, and ultimately, the incredible system of Union spying the Pinkerton detectives did during the Civil War. This was an eye-opening saga into a little-known piece of American history. Yet, more than that, it is an incredibly engaging book with a stellar main character leading the charge into women's rights through her actions, her bravery, her sass, and her intelligence. This book is suitable for teens as well - no bad language, minimal sex, and an inspirational bit of history by which younger readers can be inspired. Greer Macallister knows how to write and make you turn pages; her first novel, The Magician's Lie, was a winner as well. Girl in Disguise is another hit - thanks Net Galley! (Reposted with permission from Laurie's Lit Picks.)
Reviews reposted with permission from Laurie's Lit Picks.
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