Friday, March 15, 2019

New Books Coming Your Way, March 19, 2019

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
336 p.; Fiction/UK

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

A People's History of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian
304 p.; Fiction/India

Welcome to Heaven, a thirty-year-old slum hidden between brand-new high-rise apartment buildings and technology incubators in contemporary Bangalore, one of India's fastest-growing cities. In Heaven, you will come to know a community of people living hand-to-mouth and constantly struggling against the city government who wants to bulldoze their homes and build yet more glass high-rises. These families, men and women, young and old, gladly support one another, sharing whatever they can.

A People's History of Heaven centers on five best friends, girls who go to school together, a diverse group who love and accept one another unconditionally, pulling one another through crises and providing emotional, physical, and financial support. Together they wage war on the bulldozers that would bury their homes, and, ultimately, on the city that does not care what happens to them.

Can't Escape Love by Alyssa Cole
128 p.; Romance novella

Regina Hobbs is nerdy by nature, businesswoman by nurture. She's finally taking her pop culture-centered media enterprise, Girls with Glasses, to the next level, but the stress is forcing her to face a familiar supervillain: insomnia. The only thing that helps her sleep when things get this bad is the deep, soothing voice of puzzle-obsessed live streamer Gustave Nguyen. The problem? His archive has been deleted.

Gus has been tasked with creating an escape room themed around a romance anime…except he knows nothing about romance or anime. Then mega-nerd and anime expert Reggie comes calling, and they make a trade: his voice for her knowledge. But when their online friendship has IRL chemistry, will they be able to escape love?

Bombay Brides by Esther David
216 p.; Fiction/India

When Juliet and Romiel get married and relocate to Israel, they rent out their Apartment 107 in Ahmedabad’s Shalom India Housing Society to Jews. Each character who inhabits the house has a story to tell: about run-ins with the other residents, the diminishing community of Jews, cross-cultural conflicts, and the difficulty of choosing between India and Israel. Prophet Elijah, whom the Bene Israel Jews of western India believe in, plays an important role in their lives, appearing at critical or amusing moments and wreaking havoc with his mischief, but ensuring that ultimately peace prevails.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

#BookReview: MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Synopsis: When Korede's dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what's expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This'll be the third boyfriend Ayoola's dispatched in "self-defence" and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating a doctor at the hospital where Korede works as a nurse. Korede's long been in love with him, and isn't prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other...

Review: I know older sisters are supposed to look out for their younger siblings, but Korede really goes above and beyond. In this quick moving story, Korede goes through a range of emotions related to her care free, devil may care sister. And while she initially willingly helps her sister out of sticky situations, she comes to resent her. But we should explore why Korede feels so obliged to protect Ayoola from herself.

Oldest daughters play a special role in most families, right? They're almost like the second mother in these households. Parents drill this into the oldest daughter, and her siblings typically resent her for this role, but still turn to her when they're in trouble but unwilling to go to their parents. Korede takes this role very seriously, almost to her detriment.

Braithwaite packs a lot into 226 pages. Readers will find themselves sympathizing with Korede sometimes, and questioning her logic at other times. I don't think I found Ayoola likable at any point because I recognize the selfishness and self-centered ways the baby of the family tends to possess. Had Ayoola transformed into a more caring individual, my opinion of her might have changed. As it is, there are no heroes here, only acceptance and conformity.