Exclusive Book Reviews for November

Review: “Thandi’s Love,” by Angel Strong. Genre: Romance. Rating: 4 Stars.

I was delighted to have this novel as a gift in return for an honest review.
This dark romance fiction novel portrays Patriarchy as it intersects with issues of ethnicity, class and gender.
At the center of the novel is the theme of forbidden love, and the intrigues of plot will keep you entertained from the beginning through to the ending.
The ambiguity of the ending suggests that we have more to learn about our heroine, “Thandi,” a green-eyed slave beauty, with the triple deficit of being a woman, a mulatto, and a slave. Strong problematizes the “choices” Thandi makes, and asks if we are ever in control of our destinies, in the light of ingrained prejudices and inequalities in society.
Although the novel is set in the South of the 1800’s, these themes still have a resonance today.
I particularly enjoyed the author’s preoccupation with identity, and characters’ motives, a recurring theme throughout the text, and the depiction of a “family” as a microcosm of society as a whole.
The enchanted garden in the text, and the author’s effective use of pathetic fallacy, suggests, at times, a return to innocence, perhaps a time where there is no “other” in humankind, and we have at last found our Eden.
On the other hand, man’s pursuit of material wealth and gain is blighted by reversals of fortune, in a harsh world, where man will fight man to gain the “victory” and the prize. It is indeed, only through love that we truly know ourselves.
This novel, from an author with a sense of history and a deep social awareness, is a thought-provoking read, and highly recommended.

Review: “Paper Airplane,” by Kevin N. Fair. Genre: Young Adult. Rating: 5 Stars.

This well-written young adult novel is a delight to read. In particular, Fair’s authorial voice is original and witty as he portrays adolescent angst and self-consciousness in this coming of age book. The major male characters-Mitch, Peanut, and Jay are convincing, and I find myself caring what happens to them. The female characters all feel believable, too. The author deftly gives us a succinct backstory on each character, which adds depth to their individual progress through rites of passage, and makes each character distinct in the mind of the reader.

Humor is always bubbling under the surface, even in the most challenging scenes, where Mitch struggles through social anxiety, drug abuse and issues with the opposite sex. Dialogue and interior monologue are very strong indeed, and Fair employs authentic, colloquial language so his young characters’ voices are on point. 
Fair is a writer to watch out for in the future. His novel demonstrates he is a writer-in-the-world, with a keen eye for detail. His book is not only entertaining – it highlights some of the dangers and challenges faced by today’s youth as well as the opportunities and excitement of growing up in the modern world.

A nice touch is the “alternative ending” at the close of the book. I have to say, I like the first ending better.

Review: “The Magic Leaf,” by Mary Feliciani. Genre: Children’s. Rating: 5 Stars

This story has a message for children about friendship and enjoyment in life. When you have a good friend by your side, no task seems too difficult, and life becomes easier. The story highlights the excitement of shared moments and how we look forward to what tomorrow brings with experiences that we can share. It shows the importance of good conversations and communication between friends. The tale also shows how our beliefs influence what we expect to achieve. When we have a positive outlook, anything seems possible.

The story is told in plain English with repeat patterns and controlled vocabulary to help children understand. I think that it could be useful to teach second language speakers English, as well as native speakers.

“The Magic Leaf” is set in Italy – and the colorful illustrations set the mood of the story, which is warm and uplifting. I like the way in which the author embraces the culture of Italy, too, and teaches the reader about cultural diversity.

Why is the story called “The Magic Leaf.” I will not spoil the story, but I think the author wants to show children that the things that are important in life are moments shared, rather than material things. Even a humble leaf may evoke magical memories of a journey shared.

 

All Reviews are Copyright. Suzy Davies 20/10/2017. No Copying.

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Suzy Davies was born in Reading, Berkshire in England. She is a Multi-Genre Author, Book-Reviewer and Writing Mentor, who is published in three genres: Children’s, Romance and Poetry.

Educated at the Universities of Leicester and Sussex, Suzy is a Sociology graduate of the former, and an English Literature postgraduate of the latter. She read many books while at Sussex, written by authors such as Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Isabel Allende, Joseph Conrad, Salman Rushdie, Toni Morrison, Henry James, Julian Barnes, Vladimir Nabokov, and Ian McEwan, (an alumnus of Sussex,) to name but a few. She now puts her knowledge to use when she writes her own books or reviews other authors’ work.

Suzy has over ten years’ experience teaching English, E.S.O.L and Literacy to students of all ages, at home and abroad, including a Lead Teacher role, and a role teaching for The Prince’s Trust. A highlight of her teaching career was when she prepared students for the prestigious University Entrance I.E.L.T.S examinations in the four skills: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking English. This intense focus sharpened Suzy’s own knowledge of her subject.

Alongside teaching and mentoring others, a constant thread in Suzy’s life has been reading books, and doing her own writing projects. It seemed a natural transition when, in 2014, Suzy decided to focus on writing her books, and later, in 2016, Suzy decided to launch a professional book review service to help other authors in their careers.

When Suzy isn’t behind a book or writing one of her own, she enjoys nature and beach walks, mall shopping and visiting restaurants.

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