Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review: None So Blind by LJ Maas

None So Blind by LJ Maas is a romance and a friendship between two soul mates, who, after years of trying to stay away from each other, have to connect again to rescue their daughter from the pit she's falling into.

Narrated in switching timelines, the story follows Torrey's difficult relationship as a single mother to an unruly, rebellious teenage daughter, and her flashbacks to her college years and early adulthood with Taylor, before they parted ways over mutual boneheadedness. Years later, after over a decade of stubbornly pretending not to be in love with each other, in case the other one ran away screaming, Torrey finally calls on Taylor to take her daughter for six months. This, naturally, leads to them finally throwing themselves into each others arms, having all the sex, setting themselves up as a family, and admitting their feelings. Not quite in that order.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Book Review: A Walk in the Rain by Alison Barnard

A Walk in the Rain by Alison Barnard  is a romance between an actress and a famous composer. It's very well written, actually edited properly, and features a delightful musical spin. Also, oh my library gods, the Amazon description is awful. Don't pay any attention to it.

Jessa is a reclusive, workaholic, insecure, genius classical composer and conductor, who has reluctantly agreed to being turned into a documentary, and Shara is picked as the lady to play her. This provides a perfect way to force Shara into her life, as the obsessive method actress who comes and studies her, providing the perfect set up for a lesbian romance.

And when I say 'lesbian romance' a certain plot probably flashed into your mind, of meeting and swooning and attraction and tragic misunderstanding, followed by reconciliation and lots of lesbian sex and a happily ever after.

And you'd be right. Half right. This is actually a long and solid novel that combines the initial romance with its own sequel, and while they do feel like two distinct sections that could have been separate books, that second half is what brings A Walk in the Rain up from well written and enchanting, but predictable romance to a real story with real people and real character growth and real conflict. And a lot more romance. The second arc, however, is mainly Jessa's issues and insecurities and previous relationships coming back to bite them.

I enjoyed the book. I found the first half predictable, but looking back from the very end of the story it's actually a nice solid set-up to the second half. I did occasionally want to just reach into the pages and slap the characters silly, as like most romance plots, they brought their tragic drama entirely on themselves. But their flaws were acknowledged and explored in the second half (and touched on in the first), so I stopped being annoyed at the 'everything is perfect and we are destined for each other, but woe tragedy' dance they did in the beginning.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Picture Book Review: Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman

Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman follows a little girl’s first day at kindergarten (or play group). It’s a fairly simple story, but includes some oddly difficult words (such as veterinarian), mixed in amongst the normal prose.

Originally published in 1989, it is extremely notable for being the first picture book ever published that features lesbian characters. It has been rewritten and republished as an anniversary edition, which works far better for its audience. The original book suffered far more from age inappropriate content, such as an attempt to discuss artificial insemination, poorly written for a young audience. 

Despite the 'lesbian parent' aspect, the book is not a one note story. It appeals across the spectrum and touches on other aspects of diversity and growing up. It looks at different kinds of families, and features a diverse range of ethnicities and genders.
The illustrations support the text, but don’t replace it. They are rather lovely drawings, colourful but not garish, and easy to interpret.

This a good book to prepare for the first scary day at preschool (although it reads at a slightly older level), and the many different types of families described make for a good teaching moment, and will allow children from different families to identify with the story. There will be a few words that need explaining, but the book is fine for 6-8 year olds.
Buy on Amazon: Newman, L. (2000). Heather has two mommies (20th anniversary ed.) (D. Souza, Illustrator). Los Angeles, CA.: Alyson Wonderland

Picture Book Review: My House by Brenda & Vicki Harding

My House by Brenda & Vicki Harding is a picture book for four or five year olds. It's short, and quite small, with short sentences accompanying the pictures.
The storyline is more of an ‘about me and my family’ than a progressive plot. It is short and uncomplicated, but with enough variables to be suited to the older end of the 0-6 range. In it, the little girl describes her pets (two dogs and a cat), and how they interact. It opens with a page about her two mothers, presented matter of factly, and then ignored for the rest of the book.

The illustrations are bright and colourful and easy to understand, but crude, although this may be an adult eye. There are enough details to hook a child in, without them being over complicated.

I wouldn’t consider it a literary great, just a nice filler book to help a child on the way to literacy, that is both identifiable and educational. It is part of a series, which follows the little girl along. It's also one of the very few LGBT picture books available in New Zealand. It is part of series, which follows the same characters through various minor events (such as getting a dog).

This book is pretty hard to find outside of New Zealand. You can keep an eye on Amazon, but otherwise, here are the full details:  Harding, B. & Harding, V. (2002). My house (C. Bray-Cotton, Illustrator).  Beaconsfield, N.S.W.: Bulldog Books.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Just a quick note... say this site IS still alive, nothing major has happened, and we'll be posting again soon.

We stopped posting because:

a) Blogger changed it's format, which absolutely wrecked my reviewing flow, and I left half a dozen posts unfinished and waited (never a good move!), thinking I'd get used to it. I'm now half used to it. It's not bad, it just messes with the mindset I get into when I write reviews.
b) I discovered... eventually, that I needed new glasses, but had a few months of headaches every time I picked up a book, so I haven't been reading much.
c) classes! I went back to uni, and Cress is still at uni, and it's scary how busy that makes you.
d) once something drops off the list and you're already 'late' with it, it becomes very, very easy to keep procrastinating on it in favour of other things. Also, that includes avoiding the email account because I know it's going to be stuff to the gills with emails.
Also e) it's still scary how many people want stuff reviewed. We may have to change how we accept stuff (only take requests in the first week of the month or something), because it takes far too long to get through them all, and this site was originally set up largely to review existing fiction, and I'd like to read more of that! There's also a fair backlog of old posts and things that I really want to edit or finish off properly, and of course, the lists all probably need updating!

So, that's just an update, in case you're wondering. And possibly worrying about that book we said we'd review for you!