Review & Giveaway – George

I was so lucky to have met Alex Gino at Book Expo America and get a copy of their most recent book, George, signed. Alex was a bright and lively spirit and I am so happy to have met them and had an opportunity to thank them in person for the tremendous work they are doing for LGBTQ+ and children’s literature.  Because of this serendipitous event I have my very first blog giveaway!

I present to you a signed copy of Alex Gino’s George!

wp-1466891491842.jpgDuring the month of June, also Pride month for the LGBTQ+ community, I have made it a point for the vast majority of my reading to be LGBTQ+ friendly. George fit right in as it is the story of a fourth grader who knows they are a girl despite what the outside world sees. George sets her heart on playing Charlotte in her school’s rendition of Charlotte’s Web but is turned down due to her teacher reading her as a boy. Frustrated, she plots with her best friend Kelly to overcome this wrongdoing. Meanwhile, George struggles with family life and school bullies as a transgender kid. (TW for emetophobia as there is a large plot point involving emesis.)

George isn’t only for trans kids, but for all children to read and learn how to have empathy and understanding for people who are not the same as them. In all honesty, it’s a book for adults as well. George serves as a starting point to learn how to create a safe environment for transgender kids to thrive.

If you are interested in winning this signed copy of George please fill out the form below by June 30th. You must be over 18 and in the United States. If you are under 18 please ask a trusted adult to enter under their name and pass the book along to you. A winner will be chosen at random and will be notified by email on July 1st. I won’t pass along your email address, I just need it to request your address!

 

Advertisements

Review: Seed by Lisa Heathfield

I received a copy of the ebook Seed by Lisa Heathfield from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Seed

The family living at a farm called Seed worships Nature (yes, capital N Nature) as an entity capable of bringing both joy and punishment. Pearl is fifteen and is baffled by the fact that her stomach is bleeding. She rushes to find an elder woman family member who can help save her from certain death. No, of course Pearl isn’t dying. She got her period. But the menstrual cycle is something that has been left out of the education Pearl has received within this cult.

Education is just one of several things that cult-leader Papa S has been negligent with among his flock of family members. There is also a lack of medicine, no experience with modernity, and strange punishments given as requested by Nature directly through her prophet, Papa S.  Seed is home to couple of other men, a handful of women who seem to be in their 20s, three teenagers and two younger children. When not listening to the teachings of Papa S, the people of Seed farm, fix car engines and make skirts to sell at a local market.

Soon a new family shows up; the first new folks in Pearl’s memory.  She is drawn to the teenage boy, Ellis, and what his knowledge of “Outside” brings. As the teens begin to question the purpose of Seed and whether or not they are truly happy there, Nature seems to be doling out more severe punishments. The group of teens must weigh what they may gain by leaving, against what may happen to who they leave behind.

I enjoyed this book.  Though, I felt I didn’t get to know many of the secondary characters too well.  It was a great glimpse into how Pearl views her family and Seed, but I would have liked to gotten to know more of a history. How was Seed founded?  Who are these women and why are they subservient?  What are these men doing when they lead a woman or girl away by the hand? Where did these rituals come from? There is a lot you must infer, which makes it so I am not entirely sure Seed was as horrible as I made it out to be; as I assume the worst in most cases. But perhaps that is the point, to have us assume our worst nightmare is happening behind the closed doors.

I’d love to read a sequel or even better, a prequel. A solid YA series could be built around Seed. This premise of cults/communes is one I love and I want to know more about all of the characters.

Review: Brother by Ania Ahlborn

I received a copy of the ebook Brother from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  I am reviewing in honor of the 7th annual Women in Horror Month.
Brother

At one time I watched quite a lot of horror movies. I wasn’t too terribly picky about sub-genre and often liked a slasher or serial killer flick, a la Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Wrong Turn or Last House on the Left.  Brother by Ania Ahlborn was the first novel I have read which put that type of imagery to the page as I have not read much horror.

Brother could be classified in such horror files as hick-lit or grit-lit. The novel opens with the screams of a girl and our main character, Michael Morrow, trying to ignore them, as he is tired of them.  See, Michael’s mother, Claudine seems to have a need to kill young women. All members of the family have their role in the catch, kill and clean-up and if anyone deviates from the plan, they’ll be the next victim. The setting in West Virginia, deep in the heart of Appalachia, adds a lush layer of creepiness.

Michael is nineteen and his older brother, Rebel, takes him into town to the local record store.  Reb is trying to date one of the clerks and hopes he can make a man out of Michael by introducing him to the other employee, Alice. Michael struggles with attempting to date as he doesn’t know how to be with anyone other than his family, talking about himself without exposing his truth. No one wants to date the guy who hangs women by meathooks in the cellar no matter how much he hates his job.

As even darker family secrets bubble up and Rebel’s behavior becomes more erratic, Michael must make the decision if he is going to stick things out in West Virginia. Should he continue to be a loyal member of the Morrow family and protector of his sister Misty, or should he try to escape and make something of himself outside of West Virginia?

This was an intense read. I am not one to be too affected by horror films, but the way my brain processes printed word, it caused nightmares. Trigger warnings for just about any type of trauma apply while reading Brother. I honestly could not put it down as I was eager to see how the story would resolve. It was an easy read, but I do recommend it if you like a slasher flick and want a different way to experience that type of story. It was also nice to see a woman succeed in this genre usually dominated by men.

Will you be married in the post-apocalypse?

 

 

(A review of Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien)

dawn-nature-sunset-woman
First off, this book was written by man in 1976. The book being Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien. You know, even trying my hardest to remind myself that 1976 was 40 years ago, it still was a time where women were coming into a more equal status in society than say 40 year prior to that. But we still weren’t as unequal as this book would lead one to believe.
In short, Z for Zachariah is a novel taking place in somewhere USA post-war. Chemical and biological warfare have been used and by chance the valley where 16 year old Ann Burden’s family resides seems to be a safe zone. All family but Ann go out one day to explore further into the surrounding area, but they never return. Ann has been taking care of herself for a year on the family farm and seems to be doing a damn good job. That is, until a MAN arrives.

Spoilers and rage begin here.

I picked up this book being that I am a huge fan of dystopias and apocalypses (apocali?) and heard that it would soon be a movie. (Warning, it appears the movie changed pretty much the whole premise as shown in the trailer.) I was stoked at the promise of a teen girl protagonist who seemed to be kickass at living off the land all on her own. The book is told epistolary style through Ann’s journal. And that promise was short lived.  As we read Ann’s thoughts, we quickly realize that she was cool on her own, but now; as she spots a man in a hazmat suit approaching her, the cool fades into the approaching summer.

A MAN! Ann observes how cautiously the man moves closer to the valley and as any hetero woman would in a scenario such as this, she attempts to assess his physical features and if she is interested in anything more than just figuring out if he is safe. Because of spending so much time on her land after the war, Ann is aware that some of the water is non-potable. She observes this dude from afar with his Geiger counter but yet doesn’t warn him as he neglects to test one creek and jumps in to bathe. Finally, Ann decides to introduce herself as this dude seems to be facing a certain death of radiation poisoning. We find out that this fellow is a Mr. Loomis (as Ann thus refers to him) and he was a scientist.

Mr. Loomis explains the realities of radiation poisoning and what Ann can expect from him in the coming days.  She waits on him hand and foot as he writhes around in a delirious fever stupor.  All the while she daydreams of marrying him in the local church in one year, since everything will be copacetic since she’ll be 17 and he’ll be a grown man and she still knows nothing about him. All the while she frets over her outfits and whether she should attempt to find some more flattering clothing and lay out the fine china before he awakes.

Surprise!  Mr. Loomis beings to recover from creek radiation. Ann continues to do everything, plants a garden, gathers supplies from the town general store, tends to her chickens and cows, etc. Mr. Loomis sits on his ass when she’s around, but secretly works on strengthening his walking. Oh, also, in his fever stupor he confessed that he killed his colleague so he could commandeer the hazmat suit. This is confirmed by Ann finding 3 bullet holes in it, but she just shrugs it off, because he’s a dude and she should probably just suck it up and work on repopulating the earth.

Ann begins to feel icky as Mr. Loomis looms at her tending the fields from the porch.  This is followed by his attempted rape of Ann.  Finally Ann heads out to a secret cave she can live in, and she leaves him on her land in her farmhouse. Did I mention there are guns?  Yes, there are guns and Ann has access to them. Loomis locks down the general store, hoping to starve Ann out of her hiding place. She decides to take action… her plan… to SHOOT HER DOG.  Yes.  Ann has a dog that Loomis has taken and is attempting to train to track her. Ann’s brilliant plan isn’t to shoot the stranger rapist but rather shoot her canine companion because he may expose her hideout.

In the end as Ann comes by the farmhouse to try to work shit out, dude tries to SHOOT HER. He hits her in the leg, but it’s merely flesh wound. At this point Ann decides she must DO SOMETHING. (I’d suggest that she shoot him and be done with it. Go on living as she did before he arrived on HER PROPERTY.) Her decision is to steal the hazmat suit and leave HER HOME. Yup.  Just give all that safe land to this shitty rando asshole controlling man and she’s gonna leave.

So, the writing is honestly pretty good. I like an epistolary style. However, I don’t like books that attempt to trick folks into thinking there is a strong female lead when she’s still submitting to the men around her even if there is only ONE in this world.  I’m disappointed that this book is still assigned to high school students. Assign your kids The Hunger Games, An Ember in the Ashes or Red Queen instead.