Friday, June 23, 2017

New Books Coming Your Way, June 27, 2017

The Windfall by Diksha Basu
304 p.; Fiction

A charming social satire and family drama set in the world of the modern upper class of India, The Windfall centers around Mr. and Mrs. Jha, who, having come into quite a bit of money from the sale of Mr. Jha’s website, move from the apartment complex in East Delhi where they raised their son, now studying in America, to a mansion in Gurgaon, the neighborhood that houses India’s most wealthy and most ostentatious elite. They are fish out of water in their new home, and their move sets off a chain of events that rocks their son, struggling with romantic dilemmas and questioning how his parents’ new world will affect his own life choices, their nosy neighbors (new and old), and their evolving marriage, bringing unintended consequences and forcing them to reckon with what they really care about and who they want to be.

Hilarious, rollicking, and heartfelt, The Windfall is a story of one family as they try to stay true to themselves while finding out what it means to be upwardly mobile in modern India.

Escape Velocity: A Dire Earth Novel 
by Jason M. Hough
432 p.; Science Fiction

Selected by an alien AI to save her makers, Skyler Luiken and his crew are headed deep into space…and enemy territory! With the terrifying Swarm Blockade in ruin, Skyler and company have landed on a mysterious world in need of saving…but they have been scattered! Working against a ticking clock and a violent, technologically superior foe, these brave Earthlings must bring down an alien menace if they ever wish to return to Earth.

Twelve Days by Steven Barnes
368 p.; Science Fiction

Around the world, leaders and notorious criminals alike are mysteriously dying. A terrorist group promises a series of deaths within two months. And against the backdrop of the apocalypse, the lives of a small shattered family and a broken soldier are transformed in the bustling city of Atlanta.

Olympia Dorsey is a journalist and mother, with a cynical teenage daughter and an autistic son named Hannibal, all trying to heal from a personal tragedy. Across the street, Ex–Special Forces soldier Terry Nicolas and his wartime unit have reunited Stateside to carry out a risky heist that will not only right a terrible injustice, but also set them up for life—at the cost of their honor. Terry and the family's visit to an unusual martial arts exhibition brings them into contact with Madame Gupta, a teacher of singular skill who offers not just a way for Terry to tap into mastery beyond his dreams, but also for Hannibal to transcend the limits of his condition. But to see these promises realized, Terry will need to betray those with whom he fought and bled.

Meanwhile, as the death toll gains momentum and society itself teeters on the edge of collapse, Olympia's fragile clan is placed in jeopardy, and Terry comes to understand the terrible price he must pay to prevent catastrophe.

A House Divided by Donna Hill
320 p.; Fiction

Journalist Zoie Crawford had to leave New Orleans to finally make her own life. Her grandmother, Claudia, inspired her to follow her dreams—just as her mother, Rose, held on too tight. But with Claudia’s passing, Zoie reluctantly returns home, where the past is written in the lonely corners of the bayou and the New South’s supercharged corridors of power. And there she discovers a stunning, painstakingly kept secret—one that could skyrocket her career, but destroy another woman’s—and change both their vastly different lives, for better or for much worse.

Zoie has always put the truth first. Now, as the line between the personal and professional blurs, and she tries to understand her relatives’ deception, she must face some tough questions. Is there a way to expose the truth and save those you love? And at what cost? Heartfelt, emotional, and revelatory, A House Divided is an unforgettable tale about making the hardest of choices, coming to terms with all you could lose—and finding what forgiveness and family truly mean.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

#BookReview: HUNGER by Roxane Gay

Summary: “I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe.”

In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her own past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.

With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved—in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.

Review: Roxane Gay shares a lot of herself, probably more than we as readers deserve, in Hunger. She shares the story of her rape in her early years and how it propelled her toward a life long affair with food. As the summary says, she intentionally ate to become larger so that her body would became her safe place. The problem with creating this space is that it can also become your prison.

Gay talks a lot about how her weight affects not only how she sees herself, but how others see her. From the not so discreet stares of others on the airplane when they're hoping that she's not about to sit next to them to the rude stewardesses that won't let her use her own seat belt extender, insisting that she use theirs instead "for safety purposes." People are careful not to make fun of or show bias to other groups, e.g., disabled, but fat shaming seems to be par for the course in America.

Hunger is highly relatable and I found myself nodding my head along with Gay when she talked about how we try to make ourselves smaller for other people so as not to take up too much space. Or settling for relationships with people we wouldn't tolerate under different circumstances, just to be able to say that you're in a relationship and someone wants to be with you. And even putting up with verbal abuse because you think you deserve it.

At times it seemed that Gay was repetitive in her story telling, but I wonder if that was intentional. Though I complained a bit about it, by repeating the message, she drives home her points. Telling her story, writing Hunger was hard for her. I know this because she has said so in interviews, likely because it's deeply personal and her scars are put on display for all to see. I'm grateful to her for being so willing to share just a bit of herself with us.

320 p.
Published: June 2017
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher; opinions are my own.