Book Reviews

Review: Madrigals by Caroline Goodwin

Reviewed by Peter Mladinic Poems are written by human beings “alone in a room” with language. They come out of lived lives. The poems in Madrigals come out of Caroline Goodwin’s lived life—things she has touched and ground she has stood on, alone and with others. Sometimes, that ground is a floor in a room, other times a forest floor, a meadow, a shoreline. Where she is, is very much a part of who she is. The speaker is a participant and uniquely herself with poems that convey the idea that nature is mostly innocent, society often corrupt, and the…

Read more

Review: Every Day the River Changes: Four Weeks Down the Magdalena, by Jordan Salama

 by Alessandro Romero   Jordan Salama demonstrated that, like gold, stories can be found by looking into a river. After all, his debut book, Every Day the River Changes, ultimately tells a formidable story about other stories. On an adventure down the Magdalena River, Colombia’s most treasured waterway, Salama aims to push back social stigmas that misconstrue the country’s conflicted reputation for drug cartels and guerrilla groups. As he asserts in the opening pages, “No longer is a book on Colombia guaranteed to be all about Pablo Escobar and his narco henchmen.” In four weeks, he encounters people from diverse…

Read more

Voice to Books: Disability in Full View

According to the CDC, one in four people in the United States live with some type of disability, whether visible or less apparent. Without respectful discussion and proper representation in the media, those living with disabilities are often stereotyped and misrepresented. This is also true for people who don’t always consider themselves disabled, such as Deaf and Blind folk. This month’s Voice to Books highlights these voices, because no one is able to express their stories, which are found in every community and culture, better than they do. Ellen Outside the Lines, by A. J. SassReviewed by Alexandra S. Neumeister…

Read more

Review: Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

by Daniela Z. Montes Within These Wicked Walls, by Lauren Blackwood, is an Ethiopian retelling of Jane Eyre. The classic may be the inspiration, but Blackwood takes the bones and runs. We first meet the protagonist, Andromeda, in a carriage crossing the desert. The driver drops her off far away from her destination, but it is the closest he will get to the mansion owned by Magnus Rochester, who is cursed by the evil eye. Just as people in the real world ward offthe evil eye by wearing jewelry with the eye on it, debteras in Within These Wicked Walls…

Read more

Book Review: MENAFTER10 by Casey Hamilton

Reviewed by Michael Medina Writers speaking on the topic of race or sexual orientation are habitually hypersensitive of how they portray minority groups, even when said writers are among those minorities, which can so often take away from the raw truth of a story. Casey Hamilton, however, doesn’t hold back, doesn’t edit uncomfortable truths in his characters or the minority groups they represent in his novel MENAFTER10. He portrays them honestly by giving the reader their intimate realities, the good, the bad, and the fabulous. Hamilton reminds us that his characters are unbearably human, which ultimately is what makes them…

Read more

Book Review: No Gods, No Monsters

   By L.A. Hunt Monsters hide in plain sight in Cadwell Turnbull’s second novel, No Gods, No Monsters. At the midpoint, when crowds take to the streets to advocate for the rights of the newly discovered monsters, Turnbull writes, “Even in a cause that is stacked against them, no one is alone.” Turnbull deftly examines what it means to live life hiding secrets and the implications in deciding to reveal them. Turnbull allows one of the characters to explain the title of the novel as being “an evolution of an anarchist slogan: ‘No gods, no masters,’ the original version meaning…

Read more

Voice to Books: Indigenous Experiences are Individual and Numerous

In this month’s Voice to Books, we’re highlighting Native American authors and their stories. The colonized view of native people often mashes together diverse communities and nations into a misrepresented and false narrative of who they are. By giving space to their individual experiences, better representation and understanding can take place. The works listed below are as varied as the cultures they represent. A crime novel, a collection of nonfiction short stories, a memoir, and a YA novel show a small selection of the wide range of stories by Indigenous authors. Fire Song  by Adam Garnet Jones Reviewed by Michael…

Read more

Voice to Books: Horror Screams Our Truth

When most people think of horror, they may think of Stephen King or the bloody slasher movies from the ’80s. While these movies and books have made a lasting impression on the genre, they are often dominated by a straight white male view—demonizing and objectifying not only marginalized communities but cis het white women as well. But horror has many authors and storylines to share with readers beyond the straight white male. From those stories, horror is used to reflect on and discuss sensitive social and cultural issues. These reviews highlight women—POC and white—and their personal horrors that are intensified…

Read more

Voice to Books: See It, Read It, Love It

Graphic novels intertwine words and illustrations to allow their authors to say what they need to without descriptions. Their audiences don’t need to imagine their worlds; they can see them. Art and words are used strategically to tell stories. Simplicity and silence, lavish details, and verbose prose, or vice versa, tell these histories. The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History by David F. Walker Reviewed by Pallavi Yetur Graphic novels contain multitudes. Comic book writer Alan Moore, who penned the groundbreaking Watchmen series-turned-graphic novel from 1986 to 1987, has lamented the term “graphic novel” as a marketing ploy devised…

Read more

Book Review: We Two Alone by Jack Wang

by Yennie Cheung If the saying holds true that readers discover books at the right time in their lives, perhaps now is the right time to discover Jack Wang’s We Two Alone. Each short story in the collection focuses on Chinese migrants and their children, living around the globe—the United States, South Africa, and Canada (Wang’s home country). Spanning about a century, the seven stories chronicle just a fragment of global anti-Chinese racism and serve as a reminder that the anti-Chinese animosity currently plaguing the Western world is far from new. Through them, Wang shows us that members of the…

Read more

Book Review: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, the debut novel from Dawnie Walton

by Adam Zemel The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, the debut novel from Dawnie Walton, sizzles with energy and attitude as it unspools a recognizably American story of self-invention and systemic injustice, unmet expectations and dramatic turns of fortune, the legacy of public trauma and the pressure of society, and the role of complicity in the persecution of the other. In the book, Sunny, a music journalist and the novel’s protagonist, sets out to report a definitive oral history of the moment that claimed her father’s life before she was born––which also happens to be one of the most famous…

Read more