Isabel Allende’s debut novel from 1982 is a sweeping historical drama set in Chile, though that country is never named. This is the story of multiple generations of one family as they deal with political upheaval and unrest, culminating in a right wing military dictatorship known for its human rights atrocities. Told from the points of view of the Trueba family patriarch Esteban and his granddaughter Alba, The House of the Spirits takes the reader from poverty stricken city streets, to mines and rural areas, to the heights of wealth and power in the unnamed capital city; from the turn […]
How to describe The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge? According to writer MT Anderson it’s “…a tragic meditation on how societies that have been trained to hate each other for generations can actually come to see eye to eye.” But is it? According to illustrator Eugene Yelchin, “A crazy story about two fools blinded by propaganda is not a tragedy. It’s a comedy.” Who’s correct? Well, both are. This National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature is a story of political intrigue and espionage, and it’s a mismatched buddy story featuring two scholars from enemy countries who get caught up […]
I hadn’t originally planned to review all three of these books together, but after reading them, I found that they had more in common than just their author. American Born Chinese, Boxers and Saints all center on teens who are dealing with issues related to their identity and how to live within the community in which they find themselves. Do you adapt to others’ expectations, try to remake the community as you wish it to be, or leave it for something new? American Born Chinese is an award-winning graphic novel that tells the stories of three characters as they struggle […]
Justina Ireland’s 2018 YA novel Dread Nation was one of New York Public Library’s Winter 2018 Picks for Young Adults. When I read the brief description about alternative history and zombies and then saw the totally badass cover over on Amazon, I had to read it. Although it clocks in at over 400 pages, I zipped through it in no time, and all I can say is that there had better be a sequel soon! Set in the 1870s, Ireland shows her readers an America that is horrifying and familiar. She has also created some cool and courageous characters, most […]
I picked up this 2017 collection of short stories because it featured contributions of several writers whose work I’ve reviewed before and liked, and the subject of djinn (or jinn or genies, whatever term you prefer) has been popping up on my radar quite a bit lately. The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories was a brilliant way for me to start CBR11 — immensely entertaining, sometimes provocative, and an entree to the works of writers new to me but whose work I will definitely be tracking down. The stories are a wonderful mix of styles and settings and shed light not only on the nature of the djinn but on human nature as well. The djinn, created by Allah from smokeless fire, are sometimes depicted as tricky and/or evil, but in some ways they are no different from humans.
I’ll be honest. One of the reasons I chose this graphic novel was because it’s short and an easy read, and this is my final review of the year (cannonball!!) so I wanted to just get it done before the holiday crush. Krampus! was an impulse buy at our local comic book store a couple of weeks ago. They had a display at the checkout and it was the selection of the month. The artwork by Dean Kotz, with its bold inks and coloring, features a buff and dangerous-looking Krampus sporting a shit-eating grin while sitting atop a pile of Santas. […]
This highly acclaimed, award-winning 2016 novel is a provocative look at a fictional “small bomb” blast at an open air market in India in 1996 and the aftermath for the victims and the perpetrators. Karan Mahajan explores racism, religious intolerance, problems of assimilation, the notion of justice, and the work of activists — whether peaceful or terrorist — as his characters deal with their losses over the next seven years. The novel is full of surprises, especially when we see how similar the two sides of the equation are to each other and in the way events come full circle. […]
I am counting down the minutes until I go on Christmas vacation. MINUTES. And tonight I came home to a lovely Cannonball Book Exchange surprise. Two kinds of chocolates (one of which has already been sampled), Orbiter, and An Unkindness of Ghosts. All this, and a lovely card. I am so pleased and cannot wait to settle in and enjoy the generosity of ElCicco. Thank you!