Month: September 2020

The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld

Oh my this is grim! As I was reading it I was really hoping that it wasn’t based on the real experiences of the author, or anybody!

Jas and her siblings are growing upon a farm in The Netherlands. They fantasise about what life might be like over the other side of the lake. Then one sad winters day Jas’s brother disappears, he has drowned, fallen through the ice. The family begins to break, the tension between their parents is horrible. Jas tries to understand her feelings of pain and growing up with no adults paying attention and begins to behave in really damaging ways. All of this family are broken. Terrible things begin to happen and on top of it all their beloved cow herd become afflicted with foot and mouth disease.

This book was totally riveting. It was so awful, one of those books you can’t take your eyes away from because things get worse and worse but you are compelled to keep going, hoping all the while that Jas will come through this, that they will begin to repair themselves and that their mother will begin to eat again. There is creeping menace and there is tension, there is also a lot of wincing as situations unfold in front of you.

Broken people, harsh lives, uncomfortable and unpleasant and brilliant.

The Greatest Superpower by Alex Sanchez

Out of the blue, Jorge and Cesar’s parents announce that they are getting a divorce, at least that is how it seems to them. They are 15 year old twins and they are shocked. Jorge has always been close with his dad but when he announces that he is moving out into a house nearby that rocks his world. Then when his dad announces to the family that he will soon be transitioning into a woman called Norma that is an even bigger shock. This is the story of what happens to the relationships in the family, about love conquering all and friendship, with people who understand you and will help you through your troubles.

I really loved the relationships in the family, between Jorge’s mum and dad, with each other, and with the boys. The chats they had were lovely, warm and felt very real. I loved the diversity and the way that Jorge’s friends accepted Norma. I loved how it wasn’t all plain sailing and I thought the issues were dealt with sensitively. With any book about transgender characters there are always community members who will find a book inauthentic. What I want is for there to be books with characters dealing with issues about rainbow families and characters and for there to be lots of them. So, for me, this book is a win.

The Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman

I loved The Magicians and it’s sequel The Magician King, so I was really excited to get started on this audiobook edition of The Silver Arrow narrated very engagingly by Simon Vance. It was provided to me by Netgalley and the publisher.

This is quite different from the previous books, and pitched at middle grade readers but I think that some of the younger high schoolers I know would appreciate it’s lovely fantastic feel, especially the fans of Phillip Reeve and Angie Sage. It is a fantastic adventure, and one which appears a simple story on the surface but it has some great messages about taking care of the planet and looking after each other.

A rather precocious girl asks her rich uncle for a birthday present. Kate is most surprised that he agrees and a beautiful silver train is delivered to her house, she and her brother Tom jump aboard and the adventure begins. The train is managed by a crew of animals with whom she has no trouble communicating. Some of them need careful management. The train itself needs careful management, the flames in the engine can never be extinguished, this will be a challenge as the journey takes the passengers on the train through extremely cold, dangerous and underwater locations.

It is lovely story with lots of themes of resilience, teamwork, the value of friendship. It is an action filled adventure and I really liked it.

The Gaps by Leanne Hall

Anyone who is a fan of the current wave of crime hitting the YA shelves will love this book. It was a slow read for me at the beginning, but once I was in I couldn’t put it down. This is an abduction story, told from two perspectives, you’d be forgiven for not totally getting […]

Off the Map by Scot Gardner

I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book. Scot Gardner is one of my favourite young adult authors. I don’t think I’ve ever met a book of his that I didn’t like. This one is short stories, all set in a small country town, the protagonists are all young people and all […]

RuPaul by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara My rating: 4 of 5 stars One of the only things my 3 kids have in common is their love for RuPaul’s Drag Race. It unites them as they discuss the outfits, the relationships between the queens and the unjustness of some of the dismissals on the show. This […]