Seems fitting to use a (partial) quote from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series to explain my absence. I can explain! Really! See, what had happened was..
No, really. Between everyone in the house getting sick at least twice, my husband injuring himself, my revamping my jewelry shop (US shipping, shop now!), and regular school things with the children, time just got away from me. to make up it for it, I have mini reviews of 7 works:
It is hard to “like” a book such as this, one full of the horrors that humans can do, especially to children. It is also difficult to “like” a book where the main character is so unlikable.
August Bailey is 16 years old. She lives with her family in a farming community, has never been to the big city, and wants more from life than slopping pigs and growing corn. The problem is, her fantasy of big city life comes from movies made more than 50 years ago. After an argument with her strict mother, she runs away from home to begin her grand adventure in the city, and it all goes downhill from there.
Reese, a recovering heroin addict, street kid, and part time prostitute, “saves” her and teaches her the ropes of staying alive on the streets. Ricki, Amber, and Guy complete their makeshift family. August learns that city life can be brutal, and her reasons for leaving home are petty compared to the horrors of child rape and drug use that her friends have survived. She falls in love with Reese, and her with her, but their love is doomed from the start.
Content/trigger warnings: underage sex, profanity, (underage) prostitution, rape, drug use, violence, death, violence, violent death.
The Fire This time is a collection of narrative essays about life in the United States in the ongoing escalation of [police] violence against, specifically, Black bodies. Jesmyn Ward has collected a shining batch of fact and personal anecdote. Names are listed and fears are named. Personal reactions to Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Sandra Bland, among others, are explored. Dips into history to trace the fate of Phillis Wheatley and the oldest African-American cemetery are taken. Being the heir apparent to James Baldwin is meditated upon. It is difficult to award this collection 5 stars and a “loved it” rating as I do not love the reason this book was/is so needed. Advice: get a paper copy, if possible, and keep a highlight nearby.
What if there existed a machine that could tell you exactly how you would die, just by taking a sample of your blood? At least, that is how it is billed. The problem, of course, is that the machine’s predictions are cryptic, even though they are proven true after the fact. Plane crash, for example, could be you flying in the plane, the plane collapsing on you as you work underneath it, or a small aircraft slamming through your house while you sleep. And the kicker? You have no idea when it will happen. That is Machine of Death: Strange, disturbing, and morbidly intriguing short stories based around this premise. If there existed such a machine, would you want to know?
Three haunting tales are in Unhallowed Graves:
Book 1 – The Unclean, Desdemona, first daughter of Ukah, becomes wife of Agu of Onori Clan against her will after being berated for reading useless books and wanting to study. Fertility issues, rivalry with her sister-wife, and magic lead to a horrifying conclusion.
Book 2 – Night Market, is a combination of “stranger danger” and “be careful what you wish for.” Alan, a Brit, leads a cushy life in Nigeria while his sickly wife Laura languishes. A chance encounter with a girl in the rain leads them down a nightmarish path from which they cannot escape, leading to death..and beyond.
Book 3 – Our Bones Shall Rise Again, Oba is the greatest witchdoctor of the twelve villages. His mother, Nnedi, is a powerful elder. His 2 wives squabble, and his 2 sons are vastly different. His oldest son, Uchenna, is lazy and spoiled, while his youngest son, Obinna, is mute with “strange” powers. Oba is warned by the ancestor spirits to “beware the great water.” Disaster strikes the village soon after. On part 2, Obinna is visited by spirits and given information about a great return.
Haunting, somewhat terrifying, but very attention-grabbing. Recommended for people who love horror, magic, and the bit of darkness that lives in us all.
I’m not even sure how to describe this book. Like every N. K. Jemisin book I’ve read, by the time you figure out what’s going on, you’re halfway through the novel and deeply invested.
This is a story of how the world ends.
Essun/you arrive home to find her/your son murdered, daughter missing, and husband the culprit. Syenite, a four-ring orogene, has been given a mission to clear up a coral problem in a harbor town, as well as a mission to create a child. Damaya, a child shunned by her people because of the power she wields, is turned over to a Guardian to be educated and trained. A Season is coming, and these women each hold a piece of the key to how the world ends.
Roxal knows her gods are false. She now has to spend time unlearning what she has been taught since her creation while avoiding discovery and capture by those in power. As a Traveler, she connects with a Dreamer on Earth, Lauren. Her original task was to manipulate Lauren to build a piece of technology to save Earth, but Roxal soon learns of a more sinister purpose from Edo, her Helper and mate. Meanwhile, Lauren is under pressure from her boss and her fiance and has no knowledge of Roxal outside of the Dreamscape until she is struck with a sudden illness. Can these two save both worlds from destruction at the hands of the false gods and their followers?
Short chapters make for a quick, if somewhat disjointed reading. Dialogue feels stilted in some places, and emotions don’t quite match up with words and action scenes. Overall, it is a decent read. 3.5 stars with an intention to read the sequel. Bonus: both Roxal and Lauren are Black women.
Thanks for sticking around for this extra long review post. I hope at lats one of these books grabs your attention. Now go read something…because Sumayyah Said So.