Shelf Envy: Roan Parrish

Happy Friday, y’all!

Remember when I used to do Shelf Envy posts? It’s when I invade other people’s privacy by asking them to send me pictures of their bookshelves and what’s in them. Well, today, author Roan Parrish talks about her favorite authors, her recent book purchase, and book recommendations.

Thanks for doing this, Roan!

On Her Favorite Authors:

Donna Tartt, China Miéville, Andrew Smith, Tana French, Santino Hassell, Garrett Leigh … I could go on forever.

On Her Most Recent Purchase:

The last physical book I purchased was Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris, which I bought to read by the pool on vacation. I definitely got a few raised eyebrows as I sat sipping margaritas and reading about cannibalistic serial killers, but it was pretty par for the course.

Her Perfect Reading Spot:

Usually I read on this pink velvet couch that I Craigslisted in New Orleans, and nearly always my cat, Dorian Gray likes to sit with me. Well, mostly on me. Sometimes she’s even kind enough to hold my kindle!

The Most Controversial Book on Her Shelves:

Hmm, I’m not really sure any of the books on my shelves are particularly controversial. I’ve gotten rid of most of my grad school books—political theory and philosophy, which would’ve been the real controversial ones. Perhaps Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, which lives in the category of a book I really like even while I think the author is horrible and problematic. It’s difficult and uncomfortable to feel legitimate admiration for a work when you have actively loathe everything its creator stands for.

Her Book Recommendations:

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander [http://newjimcrow.com/]. It’s about the ways that the U.S. criminal justice system operates as a modern day racial caste system due to the way black men specifically, and communities of color more generally, are targeted. And it insists that an analysis of mass incarceration must therefore be central to current social justice work.


Roan’s new book, Small Change came out on June 1st. The first in a series that will feature M/F and M/M romances.

Small Change
by Roan Parrish


Ginger Holtzman has fought for everything she’s ever had—the success of her tattoo shop, respect in the industry, her upcoming art show. Tough and independent, she has taking-no-crap down to an art form. Good thing too, since keeping her shop afloat, taking care of her friends, and scrambling to finish her paintings doesn’t leave time for anything else. Which … is for the best, because then she doesn’t notice how lonely she is. She’ll get through it all on her own, just like she always does.

Christopher Lucen opened a coffee and sandwich joint in South Philly because he wanted to be part of a community after years of running from place to place, searching for something he could never quite name. Now, he relishes the familiarity of knowing what his customers want, and giving it to them. But what he really wants now is love.

When they meet, Christopher is smitten, but Ginger … isn’t quite so sure. Christopher’s gorgeous, and kind, and their opposites-attract chemistry is off the charts. But hot sex is one thing—truly falling for someone? Terrifying. When her world starts to crumble around her, Ginger has to face the fact that this fight can only be won by being vulnerable—this fight, she can’t win on her own.

Roan’s Website | Amazon | Goodreads

Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.
When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.
She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.

[722]: The Only Child by Andrew Pyper

Monster mash-up of epic proportions.


The Only Child
by Andrew Pyper

Lily Dominick lives for her job. As a child, she was touched by the horror of having witnessed her mother’s murder. One thing that keeps her up some nights though, was the reason why the murderer left her unscathed.

Despite that traumatic event in her life, she grew up to be an intelligent woman; independent and determined. But there’s a dark side in her that feeds her drive to understand the patients — clients that she encounters day in and day out at Kirby.  A psychiatric facilty that houses the most demented, depraved serial killers and murderers.

One of those clients was a recently arrested beguiling man who had some stories to tell. He claimed to know her before she was even born. He claimed to have done what he’s done if only to get close to her. Even more shocking was his claim that he knew her mother. Then he dropped the mother of all revelations by claiming he was her father.

Meeting “Michael” for the first time reminded me of a scene in Silence of the Lambs where Clarisse sparred with one psychopath named Hannibal Leckter. But Michael was incomparable to the famous cannibal. For one, when he’s not playing human he was a winged, clawed supernatural monster of sorts. What he is precisely is hard to tell. But he’s highly intelligent, indestructible, and possesses the kind of unmatched cruelty amongst serial killers in history. He’s also two centuries old – give or take.

Michael is also a cunning, manipulative monster. Dangling a proverbial carrot for Lily was his favourite. First, was his claim that he knew her mother. And then it was the knowledge that he was her father. There was something about Lily that yearns for this man. Both as a child to a father and in some ways, sexual, morbidly enough. In the end, I never knew which part of her longed for Michael the most. But either way, it neither was normal.

Throughout the story, readers will discover all the ways that Pyper derived from three well-known gothic classics. He seamlessly worked Michael’s character in the creation of the 19th-century horror fiction triumvirate. And as Lily continues her pursuit of the elusive Michael, she’ll piece together her mother’s life and death. All the while encountering a group of assassins who are also on Michael’s trail. This book never lacked for suspense; I flew through the pages like I was also in pursuit.

The Only Child was exactly what you would expect from Andrew Pyper. It’s a very dark fantasy littered with dead bodies and violence. The lure of the three horror classics was irresistible. But in the end, Pyper’s spin was even more incredible.

Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 206

 


How to Survive A Summer by Nick White | Skitter by Ezekiel Boone | Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka | Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward | The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti | Once and For All by Sarah Dessen | The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

(Books courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada & Simon & Schuster Canada)

Hello. 

The start of a new month always brings me hope for better things to come. It also inspires me to correct my mistakes from the previous month. I completely spaced out in May hence the lack of posts and the very seldom visits you got from me. I would like to change that in June. I gave myself a pep talk along the lines of being physically active again is not an excuse to slack off over here. So I give you permission to give me a slap on the head if I start falling asleep on the job again.

Did any of you go to BEA? Relatively quiet on the social media front. No drama to be had – which is always a good thing. Lol. After I saw a few haul posts on IG, I started to tell my husband that I’m definitely going next year but then I remember that I’m sort of protesting the US’ new administration so I immediately scrap that idea.

Still haven’t been able to get my reading mojo back but I managed to finish Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. I just about gave up on it, to be honest. It was confusing af.  There were so many points of view and for a  while, you don’t know where the story was heading. I persevered and mildy enjoyed it. I think it would’ve been a good suspense story if she’d managed to pare down the POVs.

Stop by tomorrow for my review of Only Child by Andrew Pyper. Man, this book is so creepy. It’s his take on three well known classics melded into one:  Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dracula. My reading slump came at a bad time because my review is supposed to go up tomorrow and I’ve just started reading this over the weekend. It’s a good thing that this book is so compelling!

Anyway, this is it for me, folks. Let me know how your day is going so far.

Happy reading!

 

 

[721]: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt


In light of what happened in Manchester recently, I found myself re-reading the beginning parts of this book. Particularly when we witness the character Theo lose his mother to a bomb that went off in the museum they were visiting. We see him go through a self-flagellation of sorts and grieve for all the things that he could’ve done and should’ve done to stop it from happening.  I’m imagining the parents of those victims right now, who are probably going through the same thing. They’re probably thinking, ‘if only I didn’t let them go to the concert. If only I asked them to go to a different pickup spot. Because then, they wouldn’t be where the bomber was. 

The truth is, besides divine intervention (if one believes in such a thing), there was nothing anyone could’ve done to stop it. Terrorists can’t be swayed after all. They’re driven by one thing, and one thing only: their fanatic ideology.

For a brief moment, Theo went through the same thing. His mother was his best friend. But it was because of his troubles at school and a consequent summon from the principal that had them taking a pitstop at the museum. If he’d kept his nose clean, his mom would’ve been at work and not at the museum with him when the bomb went off.

You can say that it was the starting point of his story. A dot that grew into a series of dizzying circles for which it begins and ends with a small painting called The Goldfinch. While he was trying to escape the ruins of the smouldering museum, an old man who would serve as a catalyst to everything in his life gave him the painting as he lay dying. And while he had every intention of giving it back, the painting would remain with him throughout the course of his life until it was too late to give it back. Because he would realize that the painting would be considered as stolen and giving it back would cost him his freedom.

Theo started out as a boy in this novel. But the story had a very unusual structure. It began at some point right in the thick of the conflict of the story. And since the book clocks in at 800 pages or so, it would be a long journey to try and piece his sordid tale. Readers would either get hooked right away but grow bored along the way, or endure Theo’s many stupid decisions and plow through it. Be prepared for scenes of gratuitous drug use, or shake your head at his father’s negligent parenting skills. Perhaps you’ll even lose interest with all the times he grew agog over glimpses of a girl for whom he’d love from afar. Theo’s circle of people was not the most ideal, to be sure. His father was a recovering alcoholic and who’d soon found another vice in prescription drugs and gambling. His friend who would lead him astray many a time, but was yet far more dependable than any other person that had walked through his life. There was the restorer who would become the father that he deserves, but with whom he would ultimately betray.

It is always such an arduous task to review a book this big. I’m also not a very astute reviewer even on my good days, so to even attempt to write one for a Pulitzer Prize winner is a joke in itself. The Goldfinch is obviously way out of my league.  I wanted to love it to the depths of my soul. The good thing about this book is its readable quality that could appeal to people who likes being immersed in novels for weeks at a time. I’m not one of those people, obviously. While I can appreciate the industrious and meticulous plotting, it ran too long for my taste. And like I mentioned previously, I was severely out of my depth.

Life Lately: A Very Slow Month


Oh, man. May has been insufferably slow here on the blog. This is what happens when you have an obsessive personality. You can only focus on one thing and one thing only. Sigh.

So I’m not sure if you’re following me on Instagram but I mentioned how I found my fitness motivation again a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been eating healthy, going to boot camps, and walking whenever I get the chance. I’ve been pretty active. But now, my reading has suffered. I seriously have not picked up anything of substance for a couple of weeks now. And even though I’ve read a few good books that I’ve not reviewed, writing chops have taken leave as well. Oh, the struggle.

But it is June! I’m trying to figure shit out. I’m trying to make use of my time properly. My workouts are scheduled and I figure, if I can do the meal preps for the week on weekends, I might have some time to read and blog after the gym. Let’s hope.

Sadly, I only read a few books in May.

  • Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel (Themis Files, #2)
  • A Quick Bite by Lynsay Sands (Argeneau, #1)
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • Ruby by Cynthia Bond
  • Exit West by Hamid Mohsin
  • Library Principle by Helena Hunting
  • Felony Ever After by Helena Hunting
  • Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

Again, my apologies for being scarce everywhere. I do hope June will be better. Let me know what you got up in May, and thanks for your continued patronage!

[720]: Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Ruby
by Cynthia Bond


This was such a difficult book to read and even harder to decipher. On the surface, it’s the story of a woman scorned for being a daughter of a black woman and a white man. Her beauty became the scourge that she carried most of her life; the source of her strength and frailties. The torment that had brought her insanity in her later life.

From the very young age, she’s known indescribable abuse. Her mother left her to escape the same abuse Ruby would be subjected to growing up. At 10, she was sold to a madam who would sell her every night to men of despicable character. At 13, she would lose her child who would torment her for the rest of her life. In 1950, she would escape to New York only to do the same thing over again.

This book is ripe with the kind of African American history that I never knew existed. In the South where satanism and sexual abuse seemed to go hand-in-hand in the darkest, depraved way possible. It was suffused in magical realism of the religious kind. Where the “power of the Lord” compels men to “train” girls of such young age to “hone their craft”. Is it any wonder Ruby lost her mind? A screeching, half-naked woman who carries with her the souls of dead children; forever haunted by a being who would never let her rest.

 In the midst of the overall depressing history was a slight ray of hope in the person of Ephram Jennings. He ignored ridicule and the scorn of everyone in town, including that of his sister whom he called, “mama”. They, too, came from a home who’ve seen the worst abuses from the hands of their father. In this effect, you can say that it’s love story. A love story in the simplest of form; one that had the ability to save a person from oneself.

Ruby is a heavy read – heavier than I’ve anticipated. I read it at a time when I was feeling a little lost myself so my initial rating was a little low. I remember being furious at the townspeople who have judged Ruby and the men who took advantage of someone who was not in their full mental capacity. Filthy or not, they came to her for sex regardless if she’s covered in weeks’ worth of grime. I was mad at Ruby for pushing Ephram away and I was mad at Ephram for not standing up to Ruby. This book was a real story of survival, of madness and of love. It was more often difficult but with a clearer mind, you’ll find the beauty of Ms. Bond’s words.

[719]: Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

Everyone Brave is Forgiven
by Chris Cleave


I’ve read my fair share of World War II novels. And one thing that’s glaringly missing is the presence of coloured people in the story. For whatever reason, there just doesn’t seem to be a place in the story for them. Like they weren’t even around in that particular part of history. This is, of course, only based on the books I’ve read.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven, however, changed that perspective for me. Because this book dealt with a woman who, despite her family’s and friend’s wishes, defied odds to help an African American child who soon lost his only parent to the war. You could also say that this boy saved her in turn at some point in her life. Because in war, you grab on to the only family you could find.

But that’s only part of the story.

This also had an inconvenient romance, not only because the world was at war, but because our heroine was already practically engaged to another man when she met another. And considering she was setting him up for her best friend, the dynamics of their relationship was not only inconvenient, it was also complicated.

Mary North is a privileged daughter of an MP who decided to enlist soon after war was declared. The only job she could get was a teaching position. She wasn’t enthusiastic about it at first but soon realized that it was her niche. But it was a tumultuous time when the threat of a bombing was almost always imminent. When the order came down to relocate the schools to the country, her superiors thought it best for her to stay in the city. Leaving her jobless and feeling inept.

Then she met the head of school administrators to demand a job. Tom Shaw didn’t know what hit him. Mary was determined, headstrong and didn’t leave Tom any choice but to “make up a position” because she wasn’t taking no for an answer. She was responsible for the kids that were remaining that mostly had learning disabilities and coloured kids. So at the time when Hitler was terrorizing much of Europe, England was dealing with racism in their own backyard. Probably not as brutal as they did in America where lynching and separatists ruled the South but subtle or not, it was something that black people dealt with everywhere.

Among other things, this book is about the blitz bombings England suffered during WWII. The constant displacement of people, the lack of food, the deaths and in the midst of it all, the people’s attempts to find some normalcy through the horrors. It’s also about what life was like to the soldiers serving in Malta. When they dealt with practically the same lack of resources and the constant bombings. They find camaraderie, comfort, and compassion even towards their enemies. Because in war, everyone is a victim in one way or another.

Chris Cleave crafted a story that covers a wide range of topics. There was a romance loosely based on how his grandparents got together; there’s racism that affected children who lost their parents to the war. It’s an account of survival in any way shape or form; of not losing hope no matter how easy it would be to give in. And many times, I thought the characters would for sure succumed to the weight of their troubles. But no one gave up. The dialogues were light even if the circumstances were not. Cleave found a way to infuse humour even at moments when things were dire.

Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 205

 


American War by Omar El Akkad | Into The Water by Paula Hawkins | The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr


 It saddens me that the last thing I posted on the blog was also a book haul. But what can I say? I’m currently struggling to write book reviews and there’s nothing I could do about it. I used to have discussion posts on the ready for when I’m running behind with book reviews but unfortunately, the creative well is currently dry. So yeah. As much as I want to post something else other than a book haul and an update, I got nothing. You can’t bleed a stone, you know what I mean? Sigh.

I got three books from Penguin Random House Canada that I thought I’d share with you all. I still haven’t bought any physical books as of late. It’s not for the lack of trying, mind you. On Saturday, I went to the bookstore and had three books on hand when I had an accident. I was trying to reach for a copy of A List of Cages when it fell on my face. Let’s just say there was a blood bath as I got a deep gash on my nose because of it. I’m so mad, y’all. I didn’t even have any intentions of going to the bookstore in the first place but hubby so sweetly nudged me to go. I think it’s the bookstore’s way of expressing their disappointment in me for being away for so long. So yeah. I didn’t buy anything this weekend again.

R  E  A  D    L  A  S  T    W  E  E  K

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven
by Chris Cleave
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


I’ve been meaning to read this since I got it. I’m a huge fan of books set in WWII so this fits the bill perfectly. It was very interesting. I was kept in constant suspense in a way that the fate/lives of the characters were always hanging in the balance.

 

At Attention
by Annabeth Albert
Publication Date: April 10th, 2017
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


I have enjoyed a few of Ms. Albert’s books so I had to request this one on NG as soon I saw it crop up on blogs. It was to be expected. I enjoyed it and will be looking forward to reading the next one in the series.

 

 

The DILF
by London Hale
Publication Date: May 16th, 2017
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


*Snorts* I had to get it. You know what’s weird? I didn’t notice the age difference between them. Ms. Hale didn’t really put that much focus on that aspect of their relationship so I wasn’t mortified as I was with the title. Lol.
 

 

This is it for me. I’ve got so much book reviews to write but I really don’t know where to begin. We still have another day off so here’s hoping I’ll be able to write or at least read.

Have a great week, everyone!

 

Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 204

 


Yesterday by Felicia Yap | Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan | The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid | The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones | The Blood Miracles by Lisa McInerney | Missing by Kelley Armstrong

Hiya!

Can you believe that my last Hoarders post was about a month or so ago? I haven’t bought a physical book in a long time to the greatest relief of my floor joists and my husband! Haha. However, I haven’t stopped stocking up on e-books that are entirely inappropriate for the younger audience. Hehehe. Anyway, I griped and complained about the lack of book mail in my house lately then, all of a sudden I get several packages all at once all thanks to the wonderful people of Simon & Schuster Canada, Penguin Random House Canada, and HBG Canada. I’m so excited to read these!

Last Week

 

Ruby
by Cynthia Bond

Publication Date: Feb 10th, 2015
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

I had a tough time with this book. I was not in the right frame of mind when I read it so my judgment may be a little unfair. Honestly? It’s a tough book to read, to begin with. Couple that with my maudlin mood and it only made my experience worse. Ruby’s story filled me with so much misery that I couldn’t appreciate the beautiful writing. I might attempt to review this at some point.

 

Exit West
by Mohsin Hamid
Publication Date: March 7th, 2017
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

This was also another weird book. But I like how Mr. Hamid gave us a different perspective on the refugee crisis. Some would accuse him of being naive and careless with such a relevant and real global problem but I liked his take on it. Exit West is full of hope in a future when we can live in a world where accepting refugees in our homes is a normal thing.

 

Daddy’s Best Friend
by London Hale
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2017
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Confession: I unlink my social media accounts in Goodreads anytime I read and rate a book with a cringe-worthy title. This way, my family, and friends wouldn’t know the extent of my depravity. Want to know what the title of the next book to this series? DILF. DILF, yo. Lol. Incidentally, it came out yesterday but I’ve yet to read it. Anyway, it was fun. Lots of smexy times.

RAMBLING ON…AND ON… AND ON…

  • I’m slowly getting used to my husband’s new hours at work (he works the graveyard shift now and I FUCKING HATE IT).
  • Keanu Reeves walked by me yesterday (he was filming a movie in our hotel) and I didn’t have my camera with me.
  • I’m thinking of joining this FITBODY BOOTCAMP.
  • Movies I recently saw: The Wall (Matt Damon) and Maximum Ride (James Patterson YA series).  BARRY (A movie about Barrack Obama’s struggle with his ‘lack of blackness’ as a young man.)
  • Food I’m currently obsessing over: Cherry tomatoes.

Have a great week, everyone! Catch ya later.

[718]: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Exit West
by Mohsin Hamid


Some writers can magically turn the most disturbing scenes into the most evocative, animated landscapes. Mohsin Hamid simply has a way with words – achingly beautiful, lyrically sublime prose. He tackled the refugee crisis in a way that could be misconstrued as “making light” of a difficult situation. And I’ll explain why.

The novel tells the story of Nadia and Saeed. In an unknown country on the brink of war, they meet and fall in love. It’s an inopportune time; a very dangerous one at that. As the bombs start dropping and their country is ripped to shred by a civil war, they hear about doors that can offer them escape. Where these doors lead to, however, would not be revealed until they cross the threshold.

What if I tell you that this book is a story about refugees told with a hint of magical realism? Science Fiction, even. The doors are like wormholes and parallel universes. It has echoes of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  And yet, in spite of it all, the novel remained realistic somewhat.

We’ve all heard about how harrowing it’s been for refugees to flee their war-torn countries. A lot of people have drowned trying to escape Syria. A lot have also been turned away by other countries. It’s a problem that’s been politicized and sensationalized in the present day. Here, Mr. Hamid tackled the crisis in a way that’s wholly unexpected. From a couple of characters who are more liberal for people living in a Muslim country; to the way they escaped and lived the life that waited for them on the other side of the doors, Exit West is an ingenious and wildly imaginative tale of romance, religion, and strife.

Nadia is an independent woman who doesn’t pray but has taken to wearing a black robe. As soon as she reached the majority age, she moved out of her home. She worked for an insurance company and rode a motorcycle. She was a breath of fresh air as far as Saeed was concerned. Saeed for his part barely practices his religion. He wears a beard but only to the barest minimum. He seldom does his evening prayers.

If you’re not careful, you might get a little confused with the way the characters are transported from one place to another. There was one in particular that had my heartbeat tripping. It played out like a sinister scene in a movie wherein a sleeping woman, married but alone, seemed like she was about to be violated by an intruder. I was confused because I never heard about the woman again. But I realized later on that the man was just another refugee who found himself in someone’s house. He was not there to harm the woman. He was just there. 

The world that the refugees wake up was surreal. More often they find themselves in somebody’s house but the owners go about their days nonchalantly. As if it wasn’t weird that their house was suddenly occupied by foreigners. There’s gotta be some hidden message that I wasn’t getting.

But this book is full of hope; of wishing that the world could be a bit more accepting and kinder to those who needed it the most. To open our homes to the refugees who only wanted to escape the chaos, the blood-shedding and the destruction brought on by war.