Mini Reviews #8

I didn’t mean to abandon this blog for as long as I did, but academic reading has had to take priority over my favoured fiction! But it seems to come and go in waves, so I’m looking forward to getting caught up this week on some novels I’ve been meaning to get to. I hope all is going well with you, dear readers. The end of the year seems to be fast-approaching, much to my terror.

A Change Is Gonna Come

a change is gonna comeFeaturing top Young Adult authors alongside a host of exciting new talent, this anthology of stories and poetry from BAME writers on the theme of change is a long-overdue addition to the YA scene. Contributors include Tanya Byrne, Inua Ellams, Catherine Johnson, Patrice Lawrence, Ayisha Malik, Irfan Master, Musa Okwonga and Nikesh Shukla.

Plus introducing four fresh new voices in YA fiction: Mary Bello, Aisha Bushby, Yasmin Rahman and Phoebe Roy.

Rating: 3.5/5

This is truly a much-needed addition to the growing trend of of YA anthologies. A Change is Gonna Come is collection of poetry and short-stories by UK-based black and other minority ethnic authors. The stories contained within this volume are varied and interesting, featuring protagonists from a wide range of backgrounds: from a girl with anxiety and OCD, to a blind boy who discovers wormholes and time travel. The running theme is, as the title suggests, on the idea of change – whether in the course of an individual’s life, or in the wide scheme of global politics, which is, to use 2016’s word of the year, a dumpster fire. My only issue is that I find it quite difficult, on occasion, to connect with short story collections, but this is very much a fault of mine, not the book’s.

Daisy in Chains – Sharon Bolton

daisy in chains

Famous killers have fan clubs.

Hamish Wolfe is no different. Locked up for the rest of his life for the abduction and murder of three young women, he gets countless adoring letters every day. He’s handsome, charismatic and very persuasive. His admirers are convinced he’s innocent, and that he’s the man of their dreams.

Who would join such a club?

Maggie Rose is different. Reclusive and enigmatic; a successful lawyer and bestselling true-crime writer, she only takes on cases that she can win.

Hamish wants her as his lawyer, he wants her to change his fate. She thinks she’s immune to the charms of a man like this. But maybe not this time . . .

Would you? 

Rating: 4/5

I could absolutely kick myself for spoiling the ending for myself. KICK MYSELF, I SAY. Because if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have guessed the ‘twist’ until the author chose to reveal it. The book was an easy read – the author has a style that flows well and manages to build up the suspense while giving sufficient attention to both her characters and world-building. Chilling and intriguing.

Love – Toni Morrison

love toni morrisonNobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison’s spellbinding new novel is a Faulknerian symphony of passion and hatred, power and perversity, color and class that spans three generations of black women in a fading beach town.

In life, Bill Cosey enjoyed the affections of many women, who would do almost anything to gain his favor. In death his hold on them may be even stronger. Wife, daughter, granddaughter, employee, mistress: As Morrison’s protagonists stake their furious claim on Cosey’s memory and estate, using everything from intrigue to outright violence, she creates a work that is shrewd, funny, erotic, and heartwrenching.

Rating: 4/5

Toni Morrison has such an incredible, compelling writing style. This is my third book of hers, and I’m determined to make my way through her repertoire. She weaves mystery throughout her novels, revealing the crux only near the end, and sometimes, never at all. It would do a disservice to the women in this particular novel to say their lives revolved around the dead patriarch, Bill Cosey. While he did have a major influence on their lives, the book is more a tale of sisterhood and occasionally the lack thereof; the strength of women; their burdens and sacrifices and rivalries.

The planners believed that dark people would do fewer dark things if there were twice as many streetlamps as anywhere else. Only in fine neighbourhoods and the country were people entrusted to shadow. 

Jigs & Reels – Joanne Harris

jigs & reelsEach of the twenty-two tales in this enchanting collection is a surprise and a delight, melding the poignant and the possible with the outrageous, the magical, and, sometimes, the eerily haunting. Wolf men, dolphin women, defiant old ladies, and middle-aged manufacturers of erotic leatherwear — in Jigs & Reels the miraculous goes hand in hand with the mundane, the sour with the sweet, and the beautiful, the grotesque, the seductive, and the disturbing are never more than one step away. Whether she’s exploring the myth of beauty, the pain of infidelity, or the wonder of late-life romance, Joanne Harris once again proves herself a master of the storyteller’s trade.

Rating: 4/5

Now this was one short story collection that I adored. Joanne Harris proves that she’s not only adept at this particular medium, but also that she can take on any genre and excel at it. Jigs & Reels contains a veritable treasure trove of tales, including geriatric escapees; fairytale villains; sinister food; dystopian tales of our potential future modern society; a writer who ends up as a character in his own unfinished works; a live action roleplay game with a murderous component….and much, much more.

Stories do not die, but are simply reincarnated every generation or so into a different time or idiom. 

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