March Wrap Up

1. We Will Take What We Can by Matthew Salesses


Rating: 5/5

A flash fiction novella or chapbook about the odd things of life. 

2.Somewhere In-Between by Donna Milner


Rating: 4/5

A touching novel about forgiveness. 

3. Knights of Sidonia Volume 1 by Tsutomu Nihei

Rating: 3/5

A strange, somewhat creepy, mecha alien manga. A fun read. 

4. Turtle and Dam by Scott Abrahams


Rating: 4/5

An amusing and somewhat relatable novel about a Chinese dude who gets a job as a journalist. 

5. Love Poems by Charles Bane Jr.


Rating: 4/5

Romantic poems to life. 

6. Person by Sam Pink


Rating: 4/5

An amusing novella with an adorably odd and somewhat pathetic narrator.

7. NW by Zadie Smith

Rating: 3/5

A novel I enjoyed but didn’t understand, because of the strange writing. It was almost like reading surrealism.

Book Review: NW by Zadie Smith

Pages: 401
Genre: Literary Fiction, British Literature, Contemporary
Format: Paperback

Here’s the first thing I’m going to say about this book, it took me freaking forever to read, which isn’t a bad thing. I just wanted to state this. I really like Zadie Smith, On Beauty was a great book, frustrating at times, but it was very thought provoking and I enjoyed it. So after reading that, I put NW on a Christmas list and I was really excited to read it. 

The first day I started reading, it was a total page turner. I wasn’t sure why because the plot is nothing out of this world. What made me like this book was the writing style. Zadie Smith really knows how to use words in a odd way. Her writing is poetic yet so plain and simple. Sometimes her writing kind of has this flow, as if she’s rapping? Her writing reeks of intelligence and the thoughts of a people observer. That’s what this novel is all about, the people of Northwest London. She learns and writes about these characters by observing what’s around her, by watching the way people talk, move, and feel. I could be horribly wrong thinking about that is the theme for the book. 

However, I feel like I don’t have much to say about this novel. The whole thing centers around the lives of the two main characters Leah Hanwell and Natalie Blake (also known as Keisha)
Leah Hanwell is the girl who doesn’t want change. Life seems to be the horrifying thing that if something life changing, like having a child, would destroy her routine of just living life as it were just a another chore to do on the list. She is afraid of moving forward but she doesn’t want to go back, she is stuck in a bubble of Leah’s existential crisis. Natalie Blake is a woman who seems to be obsessed with her own self but never notices it except her own friends. She loves to talk about how successful she is, as a Black woman. Her character seems to be some sort of social commentary on people who seem to think they are above others. She even changes her name, to leave the past self behind, due to some sort of shame of who she was. She seems to be conflicted with a certain identity that she wants to throw away but keep it in a jar to admire once in awhile. I think this might be a social commentary on race and class. Then there was a guy named Felix who gets killed and a portion of the book covers his life before dying. The plot in this book is not linear and perspectives change to Natalie’s and then Leah’s. I’m not really sure what Zadie was trying to get at, but oh well. Leah might be emotionally disturbed from living life, Natalie has an identity crisis, and Felix is the victim of humanity’s cruelty. 

Her writing is nice to read, it’s poetic yet sparse and I really like it for some reason, but her formatting kept changing. From headings to chapters to parts, she was experimenting with all these different formats and titling and the dialogue was written weird too. She was doing too many things in this book and based on what I saw on Goodreads, this turned a lot of people off. Then I remembered how she admires David Foster Wallace and this reminded me of him for some reason. This experimental writing, this somewhat isolating, odd writing. NW was kind of surreal, it felt more like a dream than a story about people living in NW. It was very a odd experience to me. Maybe I’m just a jackass, I don’t know. Although I enjoyed it, but didn’t really quite understand the meaning. It felt like a dream on paper, an incoherent series of dreams. 

                                                                      Rating: 3/5

Book Review: Person by Sam Pink


Pages: 90
Genre: Bizarro Fiction
Format: E-book

I’ve never read bizarro fiction but I have been dying to read this book or any of the Lazy Fascist books out of curiosity. I always seem to be interested in anything that seems to be different from the usual mainstream literature. My Kindle also decided to start working somewhat, so I borrowed this from the Kindle Library. I have one important question though, do authors get paid when you borrow it from the Kindle library? Like how when you borrow a book from a physical library the authors actually get paid when people read and borrow or whatever. Did that question make sense? 

So anyway, this book is about a guy and his roommate living their lives. it’s generally about these two guys. The whole novel pretty much has the narrator walking around thinking about random things about life, hanging out with his neighbor/girlfriend that he doesn’t really know if he likes or not and his roommate seems to be fond of him. The roommate and the narrator’s relationship is a  lot like the relationship between brothers. Nothing really out there happens except maybe some creepy homeless people and odd dialogue. I like this book though, it was fun and short, it wasn’t something to think critically about or interpret anything. 

Most of this book is kind of random. There’s no linear plot but that didn’t really bother me. It’s seem be a book about random person’s thoughts. Maybe I’m wrong. 

When I read the first few pages, for some odd reason I was reminded of The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. The narrator is depressive, awkward, and seems to have a hard time connecting with the people that surround him. He hates everyone and then he loves everyone. He hates his life and then later he loves it. He constantly thinks about dying but continues to live anyway. With each suicidal thought, he thinks about how the people around would react, he wonders if they will ignore or feel sorry for him. He wants his existence to be known but at the same time he hates himself so much that he wishes to just melt away into nothing. He’s seems to be either mentally broken, high 24/7, or just a really odd dude. He’s oddly adorable though because he makes all these wacky observations that are so childlike that you can’t help but feel bad for the thing.  Some of these observances and thoughts that he has can either be really intelligent and deep or silly. Then I wonder about this book, am I supposed to feel bad for him or just laugh at him? 

                                                                      Rating: 4/5

Book Review: Love Poems by Charles Bane Jr.


Pages: 32
Genre: Poetry 
Format: E-book

I’m not a person who reads poetry very often, not because I dislike it or anything, I just don’t know many poets. So while I was looking at all the small presses and all of their amazing looking poetry chapbooks, I suddenly got an email from this dude. I read and I liked it. Poetry is not something that is easy to talk about, except when you’re in English class where the professor makes you write essays about poems that you can only understand half of the stanzas or have somewhat of an idea what it means. So whenever I write about poetry, these posts are really short and consist of mostly the dumb blogger writing about her previous experiences of certain literature.

So anyway, back to the book. What I really liked about these poems is that they seem to have an influence of the old, classical poetry, but at the same time, it feels like the modern poetry that people write at their laptops whenever they have the thoughts don’t seem to go away. It reminded me of Emily Dickinson, a poet who I seem to really like but don’t have any of her books in physical form. It also reminds me of all those modern poets like  the small press ones. Although I think Aldrich press might be one of those small presses. 

A lot of these poems either focus on romance or everyday life, just living. Some are directed to friends or family members. That’s the thing about writing, poetry or short stories, it’s a way of understanding others or expressing something you can’t really say through the words of mouth or through action. So this book seems like a bunch of letters written for people in poetic format. Even though I didn’t really understand a select few, it doesn’t really matter because the feeling is what really matters. That’s just my feeling about poetry. These are letters are about  love and for love. Regardless if it’s romantic or friendship, because love comes in all forms. They are love letters to life and in all it’s good and bad. 

                                                                        Rating: 4/5


Hey, I just want this blog to be more active okay. I’m on Spring break anyway, so reading will  be done, I guess. 

1. NW by Zadie Smith

Pages: 401
Genre: Literary Fiction, British Literature, Contemporary
Format: Paperback

I really like this book and I am close to finishing it. Despite the length and the writing style, I was able to blast through most of this book.

2. The Dark Road by Ma Jian

Pages: 375
Genre: Contemporary, Chinese Literature
Format: Hardcover

So ever since I read Beijing Coma, I’ve been wanting to read this when it came out. I finally got it on Book Outlet because it cost a fortune on Amazon. I just started it, so of course I don’t really have much of an opinion. I do know that this book is going to put me on an emotional roller coaster. Am I sadist for wanting to read stuff like this or am I just a person who  just wants to learn about the harsh things in the world by reading stuff like this?

3. The Tragedy of Fidel Castro

Pages: 188
Genre: Satire, Historical Fiction, This is translated from Portuguese. I usually label literature that is translated into English, but Goodreads doesn’t have it. Can I still call it Portuguese Literature or is that unnecessary? I usually do this as a way to describe what the book is going to be like.
Format: E-book

I got this for review, and I just started so yeah, nothing much to say here either. 

I am also going to be reading some poetry. 

Book Review: Turtle and Dam by Scott Abrahams (Advanced Readers Copy)


Pages: 300
Genre: Contemporary, Humor
Format: E-book

China is a place that can be very misunderstood, people either have a very stereotypical and cynical view of it and other people have a very romanticized vision of it. This novel seems to be in between, where there’s good people and bad people, where people make mistakes or misunderstand each other. 

This whole novel is about the struggle of finding a job and then hoping to keep it in modern China, where you don’t always get the one you want, because life sucks like that. If you do research on communism and stuff, you will probably figure out what I’m talking about. So the main character is an intelligent and somewhat awkward guy named Turtle Chen. He lives in Fudong, China and went to school in the U.S. at Princeton University. Then he comes back to China and through a series of obstacles,strange events, and flying paper balls and airplanes, he gets a job as a journalist instead of the science or engineering type of career he wanted. At first he’s disappointed but soon makes friends who all seem to be addicted to their technology like most people around the world (some are worse than others, mostly developed countries I believe). During his days in his journalism classes, he discovers a dam that’s going to be built in Fudong that might destroy the homes of his grandmother, with possibly no compensation. 

Turtle and Dam was an enjoyable read, it was funny and relatable. It’s sad, in a funny way, how everyone seems to be so absorbed in their tech and their headphones, to the point where we can’t even communicate normally without  misunderstanding each other. In the future our faces will probably be computer screens with robot voices. Okay never mind that’s silly. I think you get what I mean. The human race will eventually be nothing but a load of pixelated beings with the occasional conversation and then go back to surfing and looking at images of cats or something. I’m not saying that technology is bad because then I wouldn’t be using this computer right now and I probably wouldn’t have read this book. I would probably be like Jonathon Franzen, just kidding. I haven’t read his work but I’ve heard he’s a bit narrow minded.

 Anyway, what I loved about this book is that it’s real and I can actually see myself in Turtle, trying to interact with a world that seems to be more interested in what their friends are saying on Twitter instead of actually talking to them. Most likely they are writing something like this “OMG my f-kin phone like blew out two times?!”, maybe not that but close. I also loved the part where he talked about the Chinese language because I’m taking Mandarin Chinese II in college and I understood all of the little weird tricks of the language. A lot of books that I read that took place in China tend to be really depressing like Beijing Coma by Ma Jian, Waiting by Ha Jin or a novel I didn’t finish reading yet called Life and Death are Wearing Me Out by Mo Yan. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad, I like when books affect me emotionally, that means the writer got his point across. I think Turtle and Dam and Xiaolu Guo’s Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth are the least depressing China based novels I have read.  It’s a fun, quirky book, a breathe of fresh air for most novels that take place in China. Well, the ones that I read already. 

                                                                    Rating: 4/5

Book Tour: Book Review: Somewhere In-Between by Donna Milner


Pages: 256
Genre: Contemporary
Format: Paperback

Here is a novel that I received for review by Caitlin Press. This review will also be on the blog tour for this novel, so welcome aboard! I will put the synopsis here, then I will talk about it because this is what this is for:

Following tragic events, from which Julie ODale believes she and her husband, Ian, will never recover, Julie buys into Ians dream to give up their comfortable city lives and retreat to the Chilcotin area of British Columbia. Along with a team of draft horses, four cow ponies, and the range cattle, which are included in the purchase of the remote six-hundred-acre ranch, they reluctantly inherit the reclusive tenant who lives in an old trappers cabin on the property. As both Julie and Ian wrestle with their deteriorating marriage, and the individual guilt and sorrow that drove them to try to run away from reality, they have to contend with the wilderness at their doorstepand the mysterious tenant, Virgil Blue. Against his will and theirs, he slowly becomes drawn into their lives and has an impact in ways that none of them could have foreseen

I don’t always read novels like this, when I do it is very rare. Lately all I have read was surrealism and satire. This novel kind of falls in between paranormal/ supernatural and contemporary. It’s a very sweet and touching novel. Nature is a big thing, a theme. There is a whole feast of description of the beautiful land that the three main characters Julie, Ian, and Virgil Blue inhabit. The book cover is also beautiful, and I’m assuming that it is portraying the land in the book.

The novel is very character driven, the whole plot centers around Julie moving on and her daughter, Darla, encouraging her to move. Virgil Blue is the mysterious dude who silently leads her to the path of forgiveness, who has had a tragic past.

Somewhere In-Between is the novel of forgiveness, it doesn’t matter if you’re dead or alive, it doesn’t matter what color your skin is, it doesn’t matter whether or not it was his fault or not. It’s a novel where you just have to accept the reality, let the truth come to you, death isn’t something that a person can escape or forget. You can’t let it suck you away. That’s what happens for most of the book to Julie. She develops such a depression to the point where she shuts everyone away from her and her husband, Ian, does exactly the same. Levi Johnny, the friend of Darla, who was present during the death of Darla, gets blamed by her mother, even though it was the mistake of a young teen doing dumb things. She even starts to develop a slight prejudice to people who even look slightly like Levi Johnny. She throws all of her anger at Levi and refuses to listen to Levi Johnny, who knows exactly what happened. It only takes her daughter from purgatory to come to her and tell her the truth. Julie is a frustrating character, because she is angry and stubborn and never listens to anyone to the point where you start to think that  Julie is really is so distraught that she will never be able to heal or maybe she is just self centered. Her husband deals with it worse, by burying himself in work and ignoring everything. Their way of coping is real and human, they are flawed and undeniably human. Darla and Levi Johnny are your typical teenagers, in love with life and foolish, until the accident breaks everything apart. 

Donna Milner does a great job with bringing this whole novel to life, the nature, the people, it’s like watching those movies on TV that make you feel sad and then the ending is happy and you feel so touched. You feel like eating a tub of ice cream, then you cry into to it, then the happy ending happens and you feel all warm inside, like you got hugged. I love books like that.

                                                                       Rating: 4/5