I’ve got four bite-sized reviews for you today, and these are pretty varied in theme, genre and format. I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!
Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
Published by Soho Teen on January 16th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
My content rating: YA
A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape--perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.
American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.
There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.
I was so excited about it when I got this book at ALA last year that I immediately sat down and started reading it in line. This was the only book that inspired me to do that (even though I was surrounded by books and had plenty of long lines to sit in). And I absolutely loved it. I finished the book upon returning home from ALA and felt like I’d just read something important—a book that opened my eyes to another culture and the struggle that many Muslim Americans face in America. The book is told mostly from Maya’s POV, but we also get short sections interspersed from the perspective of the person who eventually turns Maya’s life upside down. If I’m being honest, I don’t remember all that much about the romance in the book (confession: I waited too long to write the review), but I remember being less excited about this aspect of the book than about the cultural aspects and Maya’s struggle to find independence from her well-meaning but stifling parents.
I found this to be a powerful story of daring to go after your dreams when it seems like everything in this broken world is plotting against you.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via ALA Annual in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Chaos in Kadoma Ward by S.J. Pajonas
Published by Onigiri Press on November 15th 2017
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
Source: The Author
My content rating: Adult
Contract by proxy — Yumi is owned by a corporation.
Forced into a new life on the planet Hikari, she has two objectives: find a job and get along with Rin, the man holding her life in his hands. But with her occupation missing from this planet and her enemies looking for her, she must intrude on the kindness of reluctant strangers to stay out of harm’s way. Rin’s ex-wife wants Yumi gone, and a judge threatens to deport her if he catches her loitering about town with no job. Her desire to bolt grows stronger daily.
But Rin won’t let her go. He’s fascinated with the stories she brings from home, stories that promise to save him from the madness they all live in, a meritocracy with low birth rates and malfunctioning androids. As they build a tenuous friendship, and something more, Yumi has to face her fears, her inadequacies, and her lack of control. A headstrong journalist, she’s pushing her luck on Hikari every day as the society turns bored, restless, and finally rebellious. War is coming, and Yumi and Rin are right in the middle of it.
Chaos in Kadoma Ward is the second book in the Hikoboshi Series, an action adventure, space opera series that explores the worlds settled by the Japanese who fled Earth a century ago. Culture, history, technology, and swords clash in a fast-paced future society on the brink of war. Buy Chaos in Kadoma Ward today!
The absolute best thing about the books in this series is the worldbuilding, and that was no different in this second installment. I love how Pajonas created a world built on and governed by corporations—in this world, your importance and your value as a person are dictated by your employment. This is a major issue for Yumi. She’s spent her life being proud of her job (and, indeed, judging her own worth based on it, in some ways), but now she’s suddenly thrown into a situation where the skills she’s always cherished mean nothing—journalism doesn’t exist in Kadoma Ward. For the first time in her life, Yumi feels worthless. Her struggles with those feelings are a major theme throughout the book. I was also a fan of the romance in the book—I was anticipating a slow-burn romance between Yumi and Rin, and that’s exactly what I got. If I had one criticism of the book it was that, because there was so much worldbuilding going on in the first half of the book (which I loved—not only is the culture that Pajonas creates interesting, but there are lots of cool sci-fi elements to the story as well), I felt like that first half lacked a bit in pacing. It focuses on Yumi learning about the new planet she’s on and trying to convince herself that she’s not useless, and I was waiting a little longer than I would have liked for something major to happen because of that. Still, overall, this was an excellent read.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling
on July 31st 2016
Genres: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Fantasy
My content rating: Anyone!
The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.
Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
So, I know a lot of people have really strong feelings about this book (mostly negative), but I went in knowing those qualms and I have to say that I enjoyed the story. I read that a lot of people didn’t feel like the characters from the original series stayed true to themselves, but I don’t know that I think that’s true—they grew up. They changed. If Harry and Hermione and Ron were the same as they were as teenagers, I’d start to worry a little. They seemed like… parents to me. Not perfect parents, but I haven’t met any of those yet, so I was okay with that. Obviously, since this is a play, we don’t get the roundness of characterization that we’d get in a book, but I expected that as well. I enjoyed the story and meeting the next generation of Potters (and Weasleys).
I really wish I could see the production, though. Maybe someday.
That’s it for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think?
It does sound like Chaos in Kadoma Ward has great world-building! It amazes me sometimes the complex and intricate, new worlds that authors can create.
I wasn’t interested in The Cursed Child when it came out, but lately I’ve been thinking I want to read it. It’s all the fault of some fan art I looked at lol. Glad you liked it!
Ha! I love that fan art got you interested in Cursed Child—I’ll have to go search some out! And you should definitely give Pajonas’s books a try. I LOVE her worldbuilding because she incorporates so many unique elements along with elements of Japanese culture, which I find fascinating.
I really want to read Love, Hate & Other Filters, so I am super glad that you liked it! The series that Chaos in Kadoma Ward is in sounds really good, too- the cover draws me in too, looks like something I’d enjoy. Did I send you Dating Down? I sent it to someone in a giveaway, and tbh, I am kind of glad now ? I just don’t think it’s a “me” book. As for Harry… I’ll let you know if I ever get through the original series 😉
Yes, I won Dating Down from you (along with some other books). I almost gave it away without reading it, but then I figured it would be a really quick read and I really do like poetry—I LOVED Long Way Down. But this one was just okay. Not bad, but definitely nothing spectacular.
So… your reviews of those last two novels had me hopping right on over to Goodreads to add them to my TBR. I am really looking forward to reading them, especially because they both sound like books about SUCH important and entirely relevant themes and experiences that people are living through right now. And they are well written on top of that. I am so excited now 😀
My recent post: http://oliviascatastrophe.com/2018/01/6-reasons-you-need-new-cool-socks/
Glad I could influence your TBR in the best of ways!!
Love, Hate & Other Flters sounds like a powerful read. And timely. And the fact that it stood out when you were surrounded by All The Books is definitely saying something.
I decided against reading HP and the Cursed Child. Not because I had any strong feelings about it one way or another (I don’t) but I was satisfied with the ending of the final book and didn’t need the story to continue. Glad you enjoyed it!
Sometimes you just have to know when to leave well-enough alone when it comes to a series. 🙂
Glad to hear Love, Hate & Other Filters is good! I cannot wait to get to it! Nothing like the feeling of reading something important! You just reminded me of the loooong list of reviews a haven’t written I won’t remember many things about those books either!
I’m horrible about waiting too long to write reviews—this time it was especially egregious!
I’ve loved all the Harry Potter books and have been very hesitant about reading HP & The Cursed Child, but your review has given me some renewed interest, thank you.
I think as long as you go in knowing that it’s a play and expecting that it will be different than a typical HP reading experience, you should be okay.
Wow. All these, with the possible exception of Harry Potter, sound very thought provoking. 🙂 I admit to being particularly interested in Love, Hate, and Other Filters especially since I recently read I Am Malala. It’s interesting learning about other cultures both in their homeland and here. Pajonas’ book also piques my curiosity. The world building sounds superb as does the premise. And even though you didn’t love Dating Down, the way you reviewed it is great…like a stream of consciousness. 🙂
Now I’ll have to go check out I Am Malala—I hadn’t heard of that.
Oh, I love Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I wouldn’t say it’s all perfect, but I did find it really enjoyable (and I love reading plays – I don’t need all the details, but I get why some people need/want that). I’m also a huge fan of Scorpius and Albus now. Granted, I DID get to see it performed as a play and I think that’s the best way to see it because it’s meant to be a play – but I read the book first and still loved it. 🙂
I’M SO JEALOUS!!!!!
These all sound good to me, Nicole! Apart from maybe Dating Down… Not sure I’d enjoy that one either – it would really depend on my mood.
I love your bite-sized reviews – I got four reviews for the price of one 😉
I hope you’re having a good weekend!
You definitely have to be in the right mood and the right frame of mind for books in verse. This one just didn’t hold onto me for the full book.
I definitely want to read Love, Hate & Other Filters–it sounds like something that’s right up my alley!
I hope you love it!
Dating Down actually sounded like a book I would enjoy. I wish you had liked it more. =/ I read two books in a row that gave me a similar experience. There were great parts, but also things that kept it from being a home run. I find those books so frustrating.
Yeah, I loved some of the poetry but sort of felt let down in the end.
I really need to read Cursed Child. It’s been on my bookshelf for over a year and I haven’t cracked it open. 🙁 BAD ME!! Thanks for taking the time to read and review CHAOS IN KADOMA WARD. <3 The next book goes back to being more action-packed. Why are second books so hard to write?? 🙂
I realized that I posted my review on your birthday—thought that was sort of apropos. 🙂 I am in awe of how series manage to get written at all, and everyone seems to say that second books are the absolute worst to write! I’m looking forward to the next one!
Love Hate and Other Features is one I’m looking forward to reading. Your high rating definitely makes me think it’s one I’ll enjoy so that’s staying firmly on my TBR. I can’t believe you gave The Cursed Child such a high rating! I mean, it had good elements, I definitely didn’t feel like the characters broke from their original character too much it was the storyline itself I had issue with because it was way too much like fanfiction, and crack fanfiction at that. I don’t know, I know there are plenty of folks who loved the play so there have to be plenty of folks who love the script too.
Crack fanfiction—ha! I kind of love that. I don’t know, but I liked it. I went in knowing what to expect, and I was imagining how it would be staged while I read, so maybe those things made a difference.
I totally agree with your review of the first one. It was so good. I haven’t heard of the middle two, although they sound like they could be good. As for the Harry Potter book, I started reading one quiet day at the bookstore when I was working at the cash register, but have yet to finish it. I liked what I’d read. And actually, wasn’t put off by the play format like I thought I would be. I really need to go back and finish it. Great reviews!
I have a theater background, so I knew what to expect with a play manuscript, which I think helped me a lot.
‘…in this world, your importance and your value as a person are dictated by your employment.’ – You mean, like in *our* world…? 😉 #YesIWentThere
Regarding Cursed Child:
– Scorpius is a precious cupcake who must be protected AT ALL COSTS
– Scorbus should be canon #FightMe
– Plot Summary: Harry is an awful father. Draco is an ok father – not great, not terrible. Discuss. 😉
Ha! Yes, you’re not so off the mark there. Indeed, employment does define us in a lot of ways. In the world that Pajonas created that is a LOT more intense, though. The fact that we can relate to it in some ways makes it that much more relevant.
Regarding Cursed Child:
– Scorpius is a precious cupcake who must be protected AT ALL COSTS — Yep!
– Scorbus should be canon #FightMe — I don’t want to fight you! (I’d probably lose)
– Plot Summary: Harry is an awful father. Draco is an ok father – not great, not terrible. — I don’t know that I think Harry is an AWFUL father, but he definitely has flaws. As a mom, I tend to be more forgiving of fictional parents than I was when I was younger—I realize now that all that stuff you thought was simple when it was somebody else’s kid isn’t nearly as simple when it’s your own. 🙂