At birth, Peter Huang is given the Chinese name Juan Chaun, “powerful king.” To his parents, newly settled in small-town Ontario, he is the exalted only son in a sea of daughters, the one who will finally fulfill his immigrant father’s dreams of Western masculinity. Peter and his sisters grow up in an airless house of order and obligation, though secrets and half-truths simmer beneath the surface. At the first opportunity, each of the girls lights out on her own. But for Peter, escape is not as simple as fleeing his parents’ home. Though his father crowned him “powerful king,” Peter knows otherwise. He knows he is really a girl. With the help of his far-flung sisters and the sympathetic souls he finds along the way, Peter inches ever closer to his own life, his own skin, in this darkly funny, emotionally acute, stunningly powerful debut.
A story of love and redemption, set in Trinidad, that exposes the fault lines in Indo-Muslim culture. Behrooz is brought to a familial complex, The Yard, to live with a devout and extended family, where he struggles to belong. He forms a childish alliance with Maya, a wilful and rebellious girl, and his guardian’s daughter. After they share a night of adolescent tenderness, Maya, fearing retribution, flees to London. Behrooz painstakingly rebuilds his life and marries another. When tragedy strikes, Maya returns to her childhood home. There, she and Behrooz must face up to old demons. Can their love endure? Even after Maya is dealt the most righteous” blow of all?
Genre: YA, Romance, GLBTQ, Contemporary,Culture, Realistic Fiction
Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?
By: Yvvette Edwards
Genre:Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Release Date: May 10th, 2016
From the critically acclaimed author of A Cupboard Full of Coats comes a provocative novel of a mother enduring the loss of her child, illuminating some of the most important and troubling issues of our time.
Marcia’s husband, Lloydie, expresses his tender love for his wife each morning by preparing a cup of tea and setting it by her bedside. This routine was part of the wonderful, secure life they had built, complete with a brilliant and handsome sixteen-year-old son, Ryan.
Then the unimaginable happens, and in a single moment Marcia is stripped clean of everything she had presumed was hers for keeps. Ryan, not the kind of boy to find himself on the wrong end of a knife, is brutally murdered. Consumed by grief and rage, she is forced to carry the weight of the family’s pain. She has to assume the role of supporter for her inconsolable husband, who has distanced himself and created a secret life. She must also bridle her dark feelings and endure something no mother should ever have to experience: she must go to court alone for the trial of her son’s killer, Tyson, another teenage boy. As the trial takes apart her son’s life and reassembles it in front of strangers, Marcia, always certain of Ryan’s virtues, finds her beliefs and assumptions challenged as she learns more about her son’s death and of Tyson’s life.
The Mother is a moving portrait of love, tragedy, and survival—and of the aftershocks from a momentary act of cruel violence that transforms the lives of everyone it touches.
It only took about twenty-four hours to get through this book, but a full hour to compartmentalize all of my thoughts. Broken up in a manner of a few days, the reader follows Marcia Williams’ first person narration, as she attends the trial of the boy accused of stabbing and killing her sixteen year old son, Ryan, whom it is perceptibly clear she loved dearly.
The effects of the first person perspective in this book are truly ones that that will grab a hold of the reader from page one. The pain, disconnection, emptiness and pure desperation Marcia William’s character emits at the need to know and understand the reasons behind her son’s abrupt death were almost crippling.
Nonetheless, this book was sad and powerful in such a low-key and abrasive way. Beside the context of this story, I really enjoyed the themes that woven into the narrative: class prejudice, racial stereotyping, parental methods, “suburban” vs. “urban” life styles and neighborhoods, gang involvement and the loss of a loved one from illegal weapon possession.
May, for me, was a pretty good book month based on the material I got through. And just in case you haven’t seen them yet, be sure to check out my recent non-blog or reading challenge book review posts for, The Fold by: Peter Clines & Game of Fear by: Gledé Browne Kabongo. Two very different books with unique twists entirely their own.
I’d also like to mention that besides my #2016readingchallenge books, I will be reading The Mother by: Yvvette Edwards for a June 15th blog tour date and Wander This World by: GL Tomas. (I love these girls) :-). Now without further ranting, I present to you the reviews for this month’s reading challenge books.
Organized in the order I signed up for each challenge.
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
So as I mentioned, my birthday is early this month (next Monday, to be exact) and things have kind of been a bit hectic (what with Mother’s day being Sunday). This reading challenges post, along with the book reviews will be brief and straight to the point because who likes to read/hear me ramble all the time? (To the pair of hands in the back of this vacant imaginary auditorium, I thank you. 😉 )
In all seriousness, I also thought I’d take the time to mention here that aside from the two (?) book tours I have scheduled for this month, I will be taking a break from book tour blogging for a while. Sadly, I’ve found that it’s taking too much effort to like a large majority of the books I have come across during the tours. Out of the 30 books I’ve read so far this year, I can name a handful (from blog tours) that were absolutely, full-stop fantastical.
Yes, I do enjoy the non-fictional, historical and comedy material better than general fiction and the romance/YA books, but I’ve been proven wrong a few times (and happily so) by a few romance/YA books this year. Now that I’ve just gotten back into the swing reading more fiction books, I’m desperate not to grow tired of the genre again.
So, from this point out, I will be exploring as many non-romantic centric books as possible, particularly with the books for my three reading challenges. Organized in the order I signed up for each challenge.
Free Men: A novel by Katy Simpson Smith
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Harper (February 16, 2016)
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Historical, Literary Fiction
Copy Received from Publisher
In 1788 three men converge in the southern woods of what is now Alabama: Cat, an emotionally scarred white man; Bob, a garrulous black man fleeing slavery; and Istillicha, who seeks retribution after being edged out of his Creek town’s leadership.
In the few days they spend together, the makeshift trio commits a shocking murder that soon has the forces of the law bearing down upon them. Sent to pick up their trail, a probing French tracker named Le Clerc must decide which has a greater claim: swift justice or his own curiosity about how three such disparate, desperate men could act in unison.
Katy Simpson Smith skillfully brings into focus men whose lives are both catastrophic and full of hope—and illuminates the beating heart of a new America. A captivating exploration of how four men grapple with the importance of family, the stain of guilt, and the competing forces of power, love, race, and freedom.