Reviews by pdantis
I am the second Antone Bazil Coutts, but I’d fight anyone who put a junior in the back of my name. Or a number. Or called me Bazil. I’d decided I was Joe when I was six. When I was eight, I realized that I’d chosen the name of my great-grandfather, Joseph. I knew him mainly as the author of inscriptions in books with amber pages and dry leather bindings. He’d passed down several shelves of these antiquities. I resented the fact that I didn’t have a brand-new name to distinguish me from the tedious Coutts line – responsible, upright, even offhandedly heroic men who drank quietly, smoked an occasional cigar, drove a sensible car, and only showed their mettle by marrying smarter women. I saw myself as different, though I didn’t know how yet.
Louise Erdrich’s The Round House tells the story of a Native American family living on a North Dakota reservation and their coping with the aftermath of trauma. Thirteen year old Joe narrates the events following the attack of his mother. The details of the attack are slow to emerge due to the stress his mother has endured and her unwillingness to reveal her attacker out of fear and complex circumstances uncovered throughout the novel. Joe and his crew of friends work to solve the mystery of who attacked his mother and why, hoping to feel a sense of justice and bring normalcy back to the Coutts family.
The Round House can be read in different ways. On the surface, it’s a page-turner about a terrible crime: sorting out the turn of events and uncovering evidence, identifying the criminal and bringing him to justice. It also provides insight into Native American reservation life. It highlights the strife between the Ojibwe and the surrounding white residents as well as the often unjust outcome of crimes that occur on reservation land due to jurisdictional confusion. Lastly, it’s a coming-of-age story. Joe is thirteen and is suddenly thrust into the adult world. Through his narration, readers experience his struggle with grownup issues like assault, criminal justice, and rebuilding after trauma while exploring the bonds of friendship, sense of self, sexuality, and experimentation with alcohol. Erdrich crafts a superb cast of characters, a rich cultural history, and colorful imagery to deliver a riveting tale. Those with a faint heart, beware. There is graphic content in this National Book Award and YALSA Alex Award winner.
Now here is an oddity. A question for the zombie philosophers. What does it mean that my past is a fog but my present is brilliant, bursting with sound and color? Since I became Dead I’ve recorded new memories with the fidelity of an old cassette desk, faint and muffled and ultimately forgettable. But I can recall every hour of the last few days in vivid detail, and the thought of losing a single one horrifies me. Where am I getting this focus? This clarity? I can trace a solid line from the moment I met Julie all the way to now, lying next to her in this sepulchral bedroom, and despite the millions of past moments I’ve lost or tossed away like highway trash, I know with a lockjawed certainty I’ll remember this one for the rest of my life.
In Issac Marion’s Warm Bodies, readers follow R, zombie protagonist, through a post-apocalyptic, American city. R suffers from the usual characteristics associated with zombies: his body is rotting away; he likes to dine on humans, particularly their brains; he has no memory, no identity. However, unlike the zombie archetype, R longs for something more than brains. He is pensive and looking for a deeper existence for his recently converted zombie persona. Enter Julie a tough, fun-loving human trying to survive and make the best of the dystopia that has become her reality. Together, they explore and exercise their existential beliefs. Overcoming trials and tribulations, they work together to precipitate change and hopefully, save the world.
Warm Bodies is a hilarious retelling of the classic Romeo and Juliet love story. R(omeo) is an endearing, likeable character. His narration, which is mostly through thoughts since his zombie speaking skills are lacking, is genuine and poignant. Readers get an honest view of what's on his mind, his feelings of loss and longing. Julie(t), daughter of the general tasked with keeping the living safe from zombies, serves as a perfect foil. She is fearless, not afraid to speak her mind and even challenges her father when they disagree. Marion tells an unlikely zombie tale, one where the “happy ending” doesn’t involve extermination of the undead. If you’re looking for a heartwarming book, creative/unique zombie tale, or enjoy classic retellings, this book is for you!
In time, she would decide what she'd done wasn't madness at all. Was it mad to at least try to live as one wished, or as close to it as possible? This life is mine, she would think sometimes. This life is mine because of good luck. And because I reached out and took it.
L-O-V-E-D this book! The story juxtaposes the lives and backgrounds of Louise Brooks and Cora Carlisle, her chaperone on her first trip away from home to New York. In the summer of 1922, Louise leaves Wichita, Kansas to study at Denishawn School of Dance, but not without the chaperone that her parents insisted accompany her. Cora, with an agenda of her own in New York, sees the trip as an opportunity to answer questions about her unknown past. The novel is filled with history as it covers Prohibition, orphan trains, flappers, the Great Depression and the growing movement for equal rights. It also examines the characters sense of self - how their experiences and actions shaped their outcome. Well written and researched, I highly recommend it!
Loved the art! Great use of negative space and colors. Water coloers convey motion and individuality of characters.
Once I had feared that telling the truth would be like falling, that love would be like hitting the ground, but here I was my feet firmly planted, standing on my own.
We were all monsters and bastards, and we were all beautiful.
Rachel Hartman’s Serphina takes place in a world where humans and dragons coexist. Dragons are able to take human form and walk amongst humans. Previously, humans and dragons warred against each other, but they are celebrating 40 years of peace when the novel begins. The nearly four decades of peace has not completely dispelled the uneasiness either species feels regarding the other. Serphina, the main character of the story, finds herself in the middle of a mystery that threatens the very treaty the Royal Court and the leader of dragonkind have gathered to celebrate. Not to mention the danger to her life and exposure of a terrible secret she’s kept her entire life.
A well-written debut novel, this book has it all: action and adventure, mystery, a doomed love story, impeccable fantasy world building, a fearless heroine, and DRAGONS! Hartman weaves a believable, rich page turner. It starts out kind of slow, but persevere. It’s well worth it!