I’m way behind on my Goodreads challenge, and I have been prioritising YA reads because they go faster than non-fiction. Is that cheating?
Review of ‘You Truly Assumed’, by Laila Sabreen—Must Read
A lot of very important questions are asked in this book, and a lot of potential avenues for answer are explored. But what was most important is that no firm, clear answer was provided. And this is such a great reflection of what reality is like. Activism is no easy path to pursue, and there are so many more questions than answers to be found. But when treating the various ills of society—in this book, Islamophobia—it is necessary to take a scientific approach (reflect, consult, study, and act), which is slow, tedious, and quite honestly, most of the times, feels like it’s bearing no fruit at all. And while books focusing on “quick result” activism can be very energizing, ones like this are even more important as we wade through the muck, cleaning it up one little bit at a time, in a bid to create a just world.
Review of ‘Little Creeping Things’, by Chelsea Ichaso
Cass has a reputation she cannot outrun in the seemingly all-white small town she lives in. She survived a fire when she was a child, a fire that killed her best friend, Sara. The main perpetrator of the abuse heaped on her comes from Melody, Sara’s cousin, who is convinced that Cass killed her cousin. Fed up with the constant torment, Cass copes by coming up, as a joke, with a plan to get rid of Melody. But when Melody disappears in circumstances frighteningly similar to her own plan, Cass gets sucks into a vortex of paranoia and fear. It was hard at times to follow Cass’ thinking, as the author indulges in all the twists and turns of her protagonist’s paranoia. The end comes with a surprisingly insightful commentary on how one’s perception of who we are oftentimes defines what we do. That is, when we think we have done something, we define ourselves a certain way, which leads us down a very different path than the one we are destined for.
Review of ‘When You Get the Chance’, by Emma Lord
Millie goes searching for her mother and on the way, her enemy becomes her friend and, inevitably, her boyfriend. A lot of the book goes pretty much exactly the way I was expecting it to at the quarter mark, if not sooner; but the well-written and engaging journey, not to say the characters, really makes the entire reason for reading this book. There are two things I feel are great takeaways from this book. The first is the power of healthy relationships, be they between family members, with friends, or other. The second, and most important one, is Millie’s mind opening to the reality that her “Millie Moods” are not something unusual, that it’s normal, and that she can find help in others to manage them, rather than run away from them as she has up to now. In a time during which our collective mental health has taken such a big hit over the last year and a half, I would say this is a lesson we all need to learn, pronto.
Review of ‘Perfect on Paper’, by Sophie Gonzales
It is pretty clear where the book will go just by reading the synopsis, but yet again, the journey makes it quite worth it. Darcy is the school’s secret relationship guru, and is discovered by Alexander. But instead of spilling her secret, he hires her as a private relationship coach so that he can get his ex-girlfriend back. You can tell where this will go, can’t you? And yet, you should still consider picking up this book. The author masterfully weaves in so many important concepts at the heart of developing healthy relationships in a natural and non-patronizing way. Furthermore, a fantastic scene in which Darcy shares her struggled as a bisexual is an eye-opener to anyone who is working on being an ally to any and all oppressed people. And it’s always nice to actually read a well-written ending, even if we know the general lines of what is going to happen.
Review of ‘Five Total Strangers’, by Natalie D. Richards
Mira has to fly home to her mother as soon as possible for the Christmas holidays, but a blizzard grounds all the connecting flights. Mira’s seatmate, Harper, offers her a spot on the rental she has managed to get. Along with three other people she doesn’t know, a scary drive ensues—and not just because of the blizzard. Now I’m not sure how much of the book is realistic, but it does make for a page-turning read despite some of the plot-holes. One is left wondering who is the one responsible for the various acts of sabotage and stealing. The story is peppered with increasingly creepy and threatening anonymous letters sent to Mira, but there was something about them that made them more of a distraction to the plot than they were intended to be. I still did enjoy the read, a quick and easy one, but wish the ending hadn’t been so abrupt. There is no closure on a few levels, but especially with regards to the person responsible of the accident that may have killed someone. A potential holiday read, between Christmas and New Years, especially if you live in blizzard-prone weather.
Review of ‘Accidentally in Love’, by Belinda Missen
The concept that “he’s mean to you because he likes you” drives me bonkers, so I had to push myself to keep reading past the first part of the book, in which, well, the main character is being treated rudely by a man who ends up liking her. I did enjoy the discussion about sexism in the workplace and how women are treated when there is a “boys club” in the workplace. As someone who is thinking about starting a small business (it’s been on my mind for a very, very long time), the way that Katharine worked so hard and managed to start her own small business was very inspiring. I really enjoyed the dynamics within Katharine’s family, which were healthy and reflected strong, positive values. I also thought that the juxtaposition of a relationship starting for one character with the relationship of another character ending encouraged readers to consider looking at the end (a life-long healthy marriage) at the very beginning (starting to date).
Review of ‘What She Found in the Woods’, by Josephine Angelini
After her actions cause great harm (which was streamed, no less), Magda has a breakdown and is sent to a psychiatric hospital. Her parents want nothing to do with her, so she is sent to her grandparents’ very fancy vacation home, where she spent most of her summers there as a child. She reconnects with the old crowd, but also meets a new friend in the woods. Tension builds slowly, unexpectedly, as we discover what Madga did that caused great harm, as hear whispers of a killer in the woods, and as bodies of dead women are found. Magda’s cocktail of psychiatric drugs makes everything seems disembodied and flat, bringing its own eeriness to the tale. But while most of this book is a slow, tantalising burn, the last few chapters are a raging fire of horror upon horror.
Thank you to Raincoast Books and Simon & Schuester Canada for ARCs, to Orca Book Publishers for review copies, and thank you to all the publisher who sent me electronic ARCs through Netgalley!