Thursday, March 29, 2012

Musings On: A Taste of Honey (Stories) by Jabari Asim

A Taste of Honey was an impulse buy for me. I saw the cover, the title, and that it was a compilation of short stories and thought, why not? I was expecting the stories to be stand alone, and I guess they could be if one read them at random, but to read them in sequence opens the reading experience and makes the book that much more poignant.

Set during the summer of 1967 in St. Louis, Missouri, A Taste of Honey begins like a nostalgic tale that your father, uncle or grandfather would recount to you of their childhood. It's personal, intimate, reminiscent. Set around the fictional neighborhood of Gateway City, it includes a cast of characters and their stories. Nine-year-old Crispus Jones is at the heart of it all. Struggling with being the youngest of three boys, Crispus can't help but feel lacking, as both his brothers seem to have gotten all the good looks, charm and bravery. Teased relentlessly by his handsome brother, Schom, a sensitive Crispus stumbles through his awkward pre-teen years.

There is Rose. Her beautiful singing voice can hush the birds twittering and entrance a whole audience, but behind closed doors she is the victim of abuse at the hands of her husband. Downtrodden and desperate, Rose is at her wits end when a blessing comes her way.

Then there is Roderick aka The Genius. Brilliant and young, Roderick is his reclusive mothers pride and joy. But being too smart in Gateway City makes him an outcast and he's picked on by a gang of neighborhood kids called the Decatur Clan. An unlikely ally helps the head-in-a-book Roderick realize that there's more to life than just books. Sometimes friendship can make all the difference.

These are just a few of the stories A Taste of Honey offers. There are more characters to get to know, all with their own stories, each one as touching as the one before it. They thread together to create a wistful peek into a time period long gone. Coming in at 205 pages, A Taste of Honey reads like the title implies; short and sweet. The pages are filled with easy prose and vivid characters who are all, as Crispus Jones' mother would say, "going through changes." If you happen upon this book, don't hesitate to pick it up. You won't regret it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Lies of Locke Lamora Read Along, Part 1

I have wanted to read The Lies of Locke Lamora for a few years now. In fact, I have had it in hand at the book store and put it back last minute (for reasons unknown) on a couple of occasions. When I happened across the read along at Little Red Reviewer, I saw the perfect opportunity to finally get this story read,and jumped on board. This is my first time participating in a read along, which is exciting!

For part one we were to read from the prologue to the first interlude: Locke Stays For Dinner, then answer the 6 questions below.  

1. If this is your first time reading The Lies of Locke Lamora, what do you think of it so far?  If this is a re-read for you, how does the book stand up to rereading?

This is my first time reading The Lies of Locke Lamora and so far, I'm wondering what took me so long? I can already see that this will be one fun thrill ride, full of twists and turns.

2. At last count, I found three time lines:  Locke as as a 20-something adult, Locke meeting Father Chains for the first time, and Locke as a younger child in Shades Hill. How are you doing with the Flashback within a flashback style of introducing characters and the world? 

I actually LOVE the flashback element. It's surprisingly easy to follow. I'm not a fan of reading long bits of flashbacks in stories (I usually skim to get back to the story at present), so I find the way that Scott Lynch went about incorporating the flashbacks into the story to be refreshing, interesting and readable. It is, in a way, cinematic, and because of that, I can see The Lies of Locke Lamora translating on the big screen really well one day.

3. Speaking of the world, what do you think of Camorr and Lynch's world building? 

World building is a stickler for me in Fantasy, Sci-fi, and UF. If the world is flimsy, it is hard for me to want to read the book. Up to this point, the world building is understated and not very in your face. There isn't an over-the-top feeling to the world, but just enough magical elements to make it fantastical. I'm not confused about any aspect, and Camorr appears to be a fully realized place. So, so far-so good.

4. Father Chains and the death offering. . .  quite the code of honor for thieves, isn't it? What kind of person do you think Chains is going to mold Locke into?

I'm thinking it is to help Locke understand what it truly means to be circumspect. Chains sees that Locke has the potential to be a great thief, but that he lacks the ability to think past the actual theft and see what consequences it may have. With that wherewithal, Locke will be fantastic at his profession and that's what Chains wants. Maybe?

5. It's been a while since I read this, and I'd forgotten how much of the beginning of the book is pure set up, for the characters, the plot, and the world. Generally speaking, do you prefer  set up and world building done this way, or do you prefer to be thrown into the deep end with what's happening?

Honestly, I didn't notice that there was so much set up until it was pointed out in this question. All of the set up was intertwined with action occurring simultaneously and there wasn't large amounts of info dumping. I would say it was pretty seamlessly done and didn't bother me at all.

6. If you've already started attempting to pick the pockets of your family members (or even thought about it!) raise your hand

I already make it a habit to pick my husbands pockets every weekend for shopping. I'm afraid that I haven't tried picking my daughters' pockets yet, as I'd only come away with sticky, lint covered hard candies and the quarters that they've already pick-pocketed from me.

**For more of the read along discussion, visit Little Red Reviewer.