Ten days ago(ish), I put the call out for people who have read a book that we’ve reviewed in the past year to submit a blurb, short review, or an excerpt. I wasn’t sure what kind of response would be forthcoming; luckily, two of my favorite people submitted reviews!
I thought it would be fun to feature our friends on the site. Plus, y’all can see if I’m any good at reviewing. ;-)
From Nerija S., who reviewed The Last Warner Woman by Kei Miller:
“I definitely had fun with this book, and would be interested in reading more from Kei Miller. I loved the descriptions of Pearline Portious, a dreamy girl who wants to create things according to her own definition of beauty; and I love the description of her room, where her creations, individually considered ugly, are collectively beautiful — “it was as if the child lived inside a rainbow.”
I loved the glimpses into Caribbean folklore — the references to Anansi the spider and River Mumma, for instance. And then again, comments like this –
Whatever white man believe in with all his heart–that thing name religion; whatever black woman believe in, that name superstition. What white man go to on Sunday, that thing name church; but what black woman go to name cult…
– make me wonder about the way I define narratives (“folklore” or “myth” vs. “history” … “fiction” vs. “true story”). I might call The Last Warner Woman magical realism, but then I’m labeling some of the characters’ experiences — the things I consider “magical” — as Not Real…”
We also have a review from Heather for Zazen by Vanessa Veselka:
“This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I immediately connected with Della because I know exactly how she felt. Every time I check the news I get more depressed about what I view to be the state of this country. I read about murders, social injustice, asshole politicians, all of the -isms, you name it–and sometimes it’s really hard for me not to say “fuck it” and throw in the towel. There are days when all I really want to do is sit on my couch and stare out the window for hours at a time. As an empath, it is really hard for me to hear about all of the bad stuff and not get completely overwhelmed; sometimes the bad stuff wins, and I wish there were someplace–anyplace–where I could go and never have to hear about any of it ever again. I’m a tough woman, but enough is enough–I’m tired of fighting and feeling like it’s not making a bit of difference. I can only do so much talking and watch people turn the other cheek. It’s frustrating and overwhelming. Did I mention that it’s overwhelming? I feel this way because I care, and I can’t not care. So yeah, it was very easy for me to put myself in Della’s place, to feel and understand her depression and apathy. This passage, in which Della mentally answers a question posed to her by a yoga instructor, pretty much sums it up:
“Can I help you?”
Yes. I want to look like you. I want to be so throroughly anchored into some sort of pop culture aesthetic that nothing can knock me over or wash me away or make me hate everyone. I want to sleep again.
Sometimes I’d like that, too, Della.
Vanessa Veselka’s prose is superb. The wording of every sentence felt very deliberate and I was deeply moved by more than one passage in the story. This is one of those books that I would highly recommend to everyone. The storyline is fantastic, the writing is gorgeous, and I really hope that I get to read more from Vanessa Veselka in the future.”
Thanks so much to you ladies for participating! If anybody else wants to add their review/blurb (350 words or less) of a book we’ve read, e-mail me.
I made a couple of new t-shirt designs. You can’t see it really well in the small preview, but the book is overlaid with type that has the names of many banned or challenged books. I thought I’d just leave these here for you to check out. (They’ll be up on the Zazzle site soon, if you’d rather have a mug or a keychain or the like.)
(This design is also available on a dark shirt.)