Book Review | So much I want to tell you : letters to my little sister by Anna Akana

so much i want to tell you anna.jpgAnna Akana is a film producer and YouTuber living in LA. Growing up with a military Dad meant her family moved often and she experienced life in many places. When Anna was a teenager, her younger sister committed suicide. The event had a strong impact on her and is said to be the preface for this book. Though subtitled “letters to my little sister”, there actually are no traditional letters, with the book having more of an essay type approach. Think of the book as advice from life-learned lessons, as relayed by a millennial on the following topics: creativity, identity, relationships, money, works and career.

As a YouTuber, Akana has a lot of experience distilling broad topics into short, digestible chunks. This book read similarly to video script ideas. Though I found much of the advice valid, it all seemed pretty straight-forward, without offering any groundbreaking news. The helpful anecdotes contained within would be much more beneficial to a younger reader (high school / college age), or someone with less life experience. The book is a quick read with short sections, making it easy to pause often. Check it out from a library near youI received an advance uncorrected proof of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | The Infinite by Nicholas Mainieri

infinite mainieriIn New Orleans, a few years after Hurricane Katrina, high schoolers Jonah and Luz are in love. Each with a troubled past, having dealt with parental deaths and other difficult events, Luz and Jonah continue to struggle when they become pregnant and Luz’s father demands she return to Mexico. Jonah decides he must follow her across the border, but all bets are off when Luz doesn’t show up at her Grandma’s on time.

The Infinite is Mainieri’s first novel. It maintains a casual tone, using colloquialisms and interjecting Spanish. The text is clear, with the storyline being mostly easy to follow. Chapters are very short, making the book easy to pick up and put down. The characters are developed enough, and descriptions allow the reader to envision settings described. While violence occurs, it is not overly graphic or drawn out. This novel would work well for somewhat hesitant high school or college age readers, or others with short attention spans. Mainieri has crafted a very digestible read that keeps up a decent pace throughout. Check it out from a library near you!

I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

*If you’ve enjoyed reading The Infinite, you may be interested in Mexico by Josh Barkan (2017). 

Film Review | The Daughter starring Sam Neill & Geoffrey Rush

Daughter_poster

After many years away from his birth town and father, middle-aged Christian returns home to attend his father’s second wedding. The relationship between father and son is tense, owing to something other than the fact that the upcoming wedding involves the 31 year old housekeeper his father had previously employed. As Christian reunites with his old friend Oliver, he pieces a few old secrets together that threaten to break apart Oliver’s family.

This Australian drama based on Henrik Ibsen’s play provided much more than I’d bargained for. The story line was intriguing and the characters were easy to relate to. The acting was very realistic without anything being overdone. Music set to the film worked quite well and served to enhance the movie overall. While the budget for this film couldn’t have been too much with it’s rural setting, I’m actually surprised it hadn’t drummed up more attention in the film world. Though it may bring on a few tears, The Daughter is certainly worth checking out from your local library!

Book Review | The Book of Moon by George Crowder

book-of-moonThe Book of Moon follows high schooler Moon Landing through his parents divorce and their custody issues. Dealing with the divorce may be major, but Moon feels he has a host of other problems on his plate in this coming of age tale. Topics discussed include cute girls, Mom on the dating market, religion, skateboarding and others.

Many reviewers have noted the wry tone of this book. The writing style is very casual with Crowder often opting for the conversational tone instead of a grammatically correct sentence; a choice he has made to give more life to the young narrator’s voice. This coming-of-age narrator is meant to mature through the work, and Crowder is mostly successful here, except for a few spots where the progression of voice seems nonlinear. Overall an enjoyable read, I found the first half of the book kept my attention better than the second half. Chapter breaks are frequent making this book easy to pick up and put down, great for reading on public transit. Normally I’d give you a link to check the book out at your local library, but it’s not yet (11 Feb 17) listed in WorldCat. You can find a preview on GoodreadsI received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to the author for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | Mexico : stories by Josh Barkan

mexico stories josh barkan.jpgMexico is a collection of twelve short stories by Josh Barkan. The book’s characters come from various backgrounds and the stories are not connected other than that they all take place in Mexico. Protagonists include US expats and Mexicans, ranging in age from children to older adults. Themes dealt with include religion, interpersonal relations, gang violence, power struggle, cancer and corruption, among others. While some characters are coming of age, others are changing their ways after a life’s work.

This book is well-written and started out strong, but petered out a little as it continued. That said, each story is thought provoking and works well on its own. The themes and perspectives offered were interesting, but something to pull the reader in and keep his attention was lacking. Because of the format, some characters were not as well developed and harder to relate to. Barkan has incorporated violence tastefully into these stories, which range in length and make the book easy to pick up or put down. This book would appeal to those interested in experiencing a slice of life in another culture from various points of view. Released in January 2017, you should be able to check it out from a library near you.

I received an advance uncorrected proof of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

sunlight-pilgrims-cover Set in the near future, The Sunlight Pilgrims shares the story of a young man who has just lost his mother and grandmother and is about to face the worst winter ever. Dylan takes the ashes of his dead relatives and heads from London to a caravan his mother has left him in Scotland, near where his gram’s family lived. As the temperature quickly plummets, he befriends his trailer park neighbors, a lovely independent woman and her transsexual teenage daughter, Stella. Told with focus alternating between Stella and Dylan, it is an interesting coming of age tale as well as a story of family discovery and a battle against the elements.

This book was better than expected. The story jumped right in and was clearly written with a chronological plot. Foul language is included, but didn’t feel forced. The coming of age story of the transsexual character was done very tastefully and would serve as a good introduction to leery readers. Short chapters were appreciated and allowed the book to easily be picked up and put down. Check it out from a library near you.

I received an advance uncorrected proof of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasm

story-of-a-brief-marriage-by-anuk-arudpragasmThe Sri Lankan Civil War occurred from 1983-2009 and claimed more than 100,000 victims. Arudpragasm’s first novel, The Story of a Brief Marriage, takes place during the war and provides an acute and brief view into one young man’s evacuation and displaced life in a camp. While the protagonist’s marriage does take place during the story, I didn’t feel it was the book’s focus as the title suggests.

For a first novel, this book is definitely a success. The language used is very descriptive, but still easy enough to read without too much concentration. The story is clear and flows well enough, but it was not engrossing. Because of the book’s specific subject matter and focus, it serves well as a window into a situation most people will never experience. This book isn’t the fun read to cheer you up type, but it is deep and thought provoking without being overbearing. Check it out from a library near you.

I received an advance reading copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.