“All the Tomorrows” is a lovely dive into a culture I am unfamiliar with outside of popular movies and music. Nasser brings the reader immediately into an authentic portrayal of India with its buzzing streets, fragrant foods, beautiful clothing, and traditional Indian family values such as arranged marriages and daughters caring for their parents if they are unwed. You have to be willing to accept those cultural differences or Jaya’s subservient behavior to her cruel mother will immediately anger you and make it hard to continue on. But that’s also what makes this book important: to see and be exposed to a real look at a different culture, not one that selectively shows you the good and fun bits like the Holi Festival. I really appreciated that in Nasser’s book and the author does a lovely job of describing the sights, sounds, and smells of Bombay to where I felt like I was on the streets with Jaya and Akash. I just wished I loved the characters themselves as much as I loved the rest of Nasser’s writing.
Don’t let the title fool you, “Girl in Disguise” is no where near the same genre of things like “Gone Girl” or “Girl on the Train” or “All the Missing Girls” –this is not a thriller. I don’t know when thrillers decided to go that route with titles, but this book is actually a historical fiction about the first female Pinkerton Detective, Kate Warne. Not much is actually known about Kate other than she was, indeed, the first female detective and she was hired by Pinkerton himself. There is speculation that she was a widow—something tragic and world altering must have occurred for a woman of her time to seek this kind of employment—and there were rumors she was having a long-term affair with Pinkerton, but none of this has been proven. There are also no verified pictures of her, which, as a spy, I’m sure the real-life Kate was happy for. This lack of substantiated information into Kate’s life allowed Macallister to have a great deal of freedom when writing Kate’s story, and she uses it to take the reader on a fun, historically accurate ride!
This unique and quick fantasy feels like you’re reading a modern day folktale set in the Pacific Northwest. The gods—Old Man Above and First Female—are observing humankind in the forests of Cascadia and have noticed that there seems to be something wrong with them. Humans aren’t acting the way they should, they are being cruel and violent to other humans and animals. Thinking that they somehow got their creation songs wrong, First Female creates a spirit—also named Cascadia—to investigate, and gifted with a flying bear from Old Man Above as well as invisibility and ironic t-shirts she can’t read, sends her to the woods to find out if humankind can be saved. Cascadia is plain though, having no concept of emotion and not being weathered by any kind of life experience, she’s just… unremarkable and therefore ill-equipped to answer the question that First Female has sent her to get an answer for. To help Cascadia, they give her a few tutors in the form of goddesses that teach Cascadia the ways of lust, justice/anger, and hope along with a few men of legend to teach her how to use certain weapons and defend herself. Along with her human familiar Shaylee—a logger with one very clever horse named Blue—Cascadia starts her mission to find out what’s wrong with the entire human race based on just the ill-doings of a few groups in the forest.
I’m going to just come out and say this upfront: this is a weird book. Absolutely gorgeous in terms of writing and its literary finesse, but the story is… odd. In short, “The Lightning Stenography Device” (or LSD for short, ha) is about a thought to text device (basically you think instead of typing, taking away all hesitation from getting words on the page) that has managed to write a story while a pair of writers was asleep. Which is cool! These stories somehow predict the future! Crazy, right? Except this sparks an insanely long, prose filled philosophical debate/discussion on who is doing the writing—basically a debate of religion and who, or what I suppose, is God. That debate takes up about half the book I’d say, and it’s interspersed between the 4(ish) characters we are introduced to via their own sections. These sections highlight someone’s experience of using the LSD and the “story” it tells before it ends with a head scratching epiphany that would be so incredibly beautiful and satisfying if it didn’t take so damn long to get to.
“I’m Not A Stalker” found quick fame on Wattpad and I can see why: a quick story told through a series of emails and texts about what happens when a girl accidentally hits “reply all” and finds herself in the center of a torrent of gossip and (not so) secret admirers? Telling the whole story of Anissa, the main character, trying to figure out who the secret admirer is while dodging nosy classmates and a kind of douche ex-boyfriend through emails and texts works great in a blog / serial format, where the story is more of a guilty-pleasure popcorn munching tale. But when you put all of that in a traditional book format, the charm of it being such a unique format ran out rather quickly, at least for me. Plus, with the title, part of me was hoping for a little of a psycho-thriller aspect to it. I’ve hit “reply all” on important emails before, and the fear and anxiety that comes with that is nothing to laugh at! But none of that is in this story so… don’t worry?
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