Chosen For Endless Accolades

the chosenWell hello there! So you probably didn’t notice, but I “went dark” for 48 hours there- aka I decided to take a break from the internet to recharge my batteries. But now I’m back with the review I promised in my last post (and have been promising myself for ages).

Now, I’m going to say straight out that I loved this book. For me, reading this book was like switching on a light bulb in my brain- for a second everything was illuminated. Not just because it was brilliantly philosophical and gave me food for thought, but because it was a beautiful story with so much heart.

At the centre of this book was a modern day allegory of two boys playing a baseball game. It became an indictment against baseless hatred. The idea of pointless hatred between man and man as a destructive force is a crucial theme in Jewish philosophy- one story pits this as the cause of the destruction of the temple- but is so clearly a universal message for us all. This book, more than anything, is about bridging the gaps of perceived differences and realising we aren’t all that different after all. Personally, after all the posts I have published this week, that is the message I want to get out most of all.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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Thanks for reading!

“The Polemic of the Jews”

“I’ve got no interest in the polemic of the Jews,” a colleague once told me on reading The Finkler Question. And I wasn’t surprised. Because all my surprise had been used up years back at Uni when I asked a friend about her literature and religion course. I knew that there were a couple of Jewish books on it and was curious what people thought about them. “Oh no one but me bothered to read them,” she informed me. As to whether she liked them, she replied with a scrunched up face “It was very Jewish-y.”

Now as someone Jewish I get this *a lot*. And because of that I wasn’t sure I’d ever make this post. But after you were all so positive about representation the other day, I thought it would be fun to talk about my experience of Jews in books- and no, I’m not going to talk about Jews dying in the Holocaust or as the villain- but positive representations- which are few and far between. I managed to compile a list of 5:

daniel deronda1. Daniel Deronda– the first one on here is by someone who was not Jewish- but I guarantee this is one of the best books about Jews there is. It really gets to the heart of what it is to be Jewish- the complexities and the differences- not simply putting everyone in one bracket.

 

the chosen2. The Chosen– I absolutely loved this one in the way it personified the internal debates of Jewish identity through the two boys at the heart of the story. Review to come soon… (hopefully)

 

King-of-Schnorrers3. King of Schnorrer’s– this is the most “out there” book on the list. It’s effectively a comedy about the king of “scroungers”- and is super hilarious.

 

Invisible

The_Golem_(Isaac_Bashevis_Singer_novel_-_cover_art)4. The Golem– I mentioned this on my blog after I went to Prague- Singer’s version is undoubtedly one of the best books on the subject, making the fairytale real by transposing it on the history of pogroms. You can read more about it here (and in general you can’t really go wrong with an Isaac Bashevis Singer book- the Manor and the Estate in particularly are a grittier more realistic version of Fiddler on the Roof)

 

letters-to-auntie-fori5. Letters to Auntie Fori– this one’s non-fiction, but is really unusual in that it was written as a series of letters to Gilbert’s “adopted” Auntie Fori about her Jewish roots. Hence the title “Letters to Auntie Fori”. It traces the birth of the religion to the modern day ethnicity and makes for a surprisingly invigorating read.

 

Today I want to ask you about *your* culture- what books from your country or culture do you like the most? What books do you feel represent *you*? Anything goes!

(Hoping a skinhead somehow finds their way here and says Mein Kampf- sometimes I live for the random trolls… I have a weird sense of humour)

The Diverse Books Tag

Happy Monday! (ughh that feels wrong to say- is anyone ever happy it’s Monday?)

After all the lovely conversations I had yesterday- thank you for that! – I really wanted to continue the conversation and talk more about diverse books. Plus- tis the season to do overdue tags!

Thanks so much to the awesome Codie for tagging me for this one!!

RULES

The Diverse Books Tag is a bit like a scavenger hunt. I will task you to find a book that fits a specific criteria and you will have to show us a book you have read or want to read. If you can’t think of a book that fits the specific category, then I encourage you to go look for one. A quick Google search will provide you with many books that will fit the bill. (Also, Goodreads lists are your friends.) Find one you are genuinely interested in reading and move on to the next category.

THE QUESTIONS.

1. Find a book starring a lesbian character.

I’ve wanted to read this for ages!

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2. Find a book with a Muslim protagonist.

It has to be A Thousand Splendid Suns– it may be a cliché at this point, but it’s one of my favourite books- the list wouldn’t be complete without it!

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3. Find a book set in Latin America.

This didn’t really do it for me, but I could appreciate the dense prose and liked the characters in this one

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4. Find a book about a person with a disability.

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5. Find a science-fiction or fantasy book with a POC (person of colour) protagonist.

I need to read this:

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6. Find a book set in/about any country in Africa.

Have you read this? Have you? If you haven’t- what are you doing with your life? It was one of those books I just loved at uni and it also happens to be one of the most ground-breaking modern African novels… moral of the story: read it!

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7. Find a book written by an Indigenous or Native author.

This is the only one on the list I had to hunt for- but I’m glad that I did cos I found something awesome to add to my tbr

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8. Find a book set in South Asia (Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka etc).

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9. Find a book with a biracial protagonist.

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10. Find a book starring a transgender character or about transgender issues.

I want to go with a bit of a curveball here and say Poison Study– it may be a bit of an unusual answer, but you *should* know what I mean if you’ve read it

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 Gonna tag some of my newer followers:

Bookstooge

Annmarie McQueen

Meadow of Roses

Geronimo reads

Feel free to ignore!

And to everyone else- I’m looking for your fave diverse book recommendations- hit me up people!

The “White People” In Books Debate

So recently I read on someone’s blog (who shall remain nameless) that “white people” was a bookish pet peeve. When clarifying, she said she didn’t like the “whining of privileged twats”- which is not what I would call an improvement.  It’s not exactly a legitimate literary criticism either- yet I see this kind of thing around a lot and it makes me sad.

I love diversity in books- diversity in general makes life more interesting. But the criticism of a main character for being “white” or “male” or “het” is too much for me. I just want decent characters and I don’t care about their race or gender or sexuality- and I shouldn’t have to. I don’t think it’s right to only ever look skin deep. I know there are other opinions out there- but to me it all ends up sounding like doublespeak. Can’t we just focus on this please:

martin-luther-king

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King

Somehow that message seems to have gotten muddled over time. Because there is another side to this discussion that I just don’t get. And that’s the whole “white people should/shouldn’t write about people of colour” debate. It’s become a damned if you do, damned if you don’t thing. I can’t really see how that kind of thing helps anyone.

Sorry, but arguing “there are too many white people in books” or “too many white authors” sounds pretty damn racist to me- no matter which way you swing it- and I say this as someone who is part of an ethnic minority and doesn’t fit comfortably in the “white” category. (Yeah, I pass for white but am not actually white- shoot me- the Nazis certainly would have)

And that’s all I really have to say on the matter- I know I may have said too much for some people’s liking, but I’m a total maverick that way and think it’s a discussion worth having.

What do you think about this discussion of white people in books? I’d really genuinely like to hear a variety of opinions- so hit me up in the comments below!

The Demon King Series Was The Crowning Glory of Fantasy

(Technically the series is called Seven Realms, but hey, that worked better for the title!)

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What a series!! If you’ve been around the book community a while and like fantasy in any small way, there’s a good chance you will have heard about these books. And there’s a really good reason why- they’re amazing!!

I know I am not the first to say this, but I *loved* this series! It was top quality! The story was exciting, the romance twists at your insides and the characters sparkle.

Chima was great at creating a sense of dread. I was nervous to my core when I was reading them- at times it was literally torture. This was me:

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As the series went on the tension only got stronger- making me less able to read while I waited for the next one and the next one and the next- until I had devoured them all!

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Luckily for me the ending was more than I could have hoped for! I pretty much ran around screeching: “I’m so happy!!!”

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I did like the world-building- even if it wasn’t overly complicated- it was still intriguing- especially with the reliance on the history that had gone before.

The only downside is that it’s predictable enough to guess all the plot twists and I knew how the whole thing was going to go- but in the end it was so utterly awesome that I simply didn’t care! I really, really cannot recommend this enough!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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So- have you read this series? If your answer was no- what are you waiting for?!

The Last of the Wilds Wasn’t Too Tame

last-of-the-wildsSince I started reading the last in this series today, I figured it was high time I reviewed this! And if any of you remember my review of Priestess of the White (or my whining about Trudi Canavan’s consistency in general) you’ll know I have had my doubts about this series, but luckily this series is turning out to be pretty good! I actually found I was pretty pleased with this one- though it wasn’t fast-paced, it turned out to be a much wilder ride than the last one.

Unlike so many middle books, the story actually picked up and got more intriguing. Slowly, slowly the hidden depths of this world are starting to be revealed. I loved the development of the gods and what it means. I’m also really starting to get invested in the characters- particularly Laird and Minar (No spoilers- but I love the drama that goes down between them). There are also far more emotional elements to the story now!

I still had problems with it– for instance the ending didn’t completely make complete sense. The gods seemed a little too forgiving and I didn’t quite understand why they didn’t just punish the protagonist. Perhaps that will be revealed in the last one.

This series is still not quite there yet- but I have a feeling that it’s only gonna get better and I’m gonna like how it ends.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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Have you read this book? Are you a fan of Trudi Canavan? Let me know in the comments!

I love endings!

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I don’t think I ever properly explained what I was doing this month for Nano. Basically, I had an 85000 word manuscript I wanted to overhaul– of which 20,000 words were edited. I was feeling ambitious so I decided I wanted to do the rest… and I did it! I finished last night!

Honestly when I stopped for the night on 29th and had 4 whole chapters left to go, I never thought I would make it. But as luck would have it, I got off work an hour early. And then- even with all my best procrastination techniques- I still managed to pull it off!

(Okay, I sort of finished. Right now I’ve got all my track changes on and it’s pretty much every colour of the rainbow. And I may have 5 chapters that I edited by hand and need to type up. But who cares- cos I completed the challenge I set myself! Even though I never thought I would!)

Most importantly of all, I am finally, finally happy with the story- so yay!! After hacking away at it, the plot is now streamlined (3 chapters and 5000 words lighter), the protagonist is now my bestie and the story just feels more real (well, as real as fantasy ever gets).

As I was writing the last few lines, I began to feel the euphoria of it all clicking together began to sink in and it struck me that I loved endings most of all. Nothing really beats that moment when you get to tie all the stray strands in place, nothing makes me happier than playing out that last cathartic note, and nothing is more satisfying than writing “the end”.

All it needs now is a little proofread and a polish- and that’s not too daunting. Wish me luck!

So did you do Nano? Did you win? (Cop outs like what I did totally count!) Let me know in the comments!