Wednesday 24 February 2021

#bookreview: You Knew the Price | Susan Kaye Quinn

You Knew the PriceYou Knew the Price by Susan Kaye Quinn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Regional Director Zuri Hill-Gray has it all - yet nothing feels right after the death of her twin sister. Then power engineer Lucia Ramirez comes stumbling into her life, bringing with her a threat to the power grid that puts her job - and last shred of identity - on the line.

Is it weird to say that You Knew the Price feels strangely prescient? I doubt Quinn could have predicted the power shortages in Texas right at the time she's launching the book, but time is just weird nowadays anyway! The main difference is, the power shortages in the book are done on purpose for nefarious reasons instead of being a result of poor planning through climate change.

Still, the overall premise for the Nothing is Promised series is a timely and relevant one: pandemics, climate change, and the price society has to pay collectively to fix things. Where Quinn focuses very much on found family in When You Had Power, it's the community gathering support each other - whether they're colleagues or unknown protesters - that comes to the fore here. As much as Zuri is able to rely on the support of her close-knit family, she also needs to step up and face the very real evil of people bent on power. And she can't do it alone.

Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from the author. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Wednesday 17 February 2021

#bookreview: What's the Tea with Gen Z

What's The Tea With Gen ZWhat's The Tea With Gen Z by G.Z. Manuel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What's the Tea with Gen Z is a guidebook to understanding Gen Z, written by communication students from IACT College, Gen Z-ers themselves. It's a huge effort - the book is filled with lots of information, from research and surveys, as well as personal anecdotes.

Content-wise, I'd give them an A (or 5 stars) for effort. The book covers everything from who the Gen Z are and how they grew up to what they're currently facing in the Covid-19 pandemic. It sometimes feels like the majority of the statistical information quoted has an implicit White USA bias. In a way, this makes sense because of how global the world is and what kind of information is readily available on the Internet (as well as the limits of college students carrying out surveys during MCO - this begs the question, who are they surveying?). At some points, the question "is that really true here?" kept coming up while reading, so I'd have appreciated a little bit of analysis on how this translates to the Gen Z in Malaysia. Is it absolutely the same, or would there be variation due to culture? Is there a difference in the way the same global events are perceived & reacted to by Gen Z in White/Western surveys vs the average Malaysian youth? Or is this generation truly so global that cultural backgrounds don't play as big a role as they used to?

On a more personal interest level, a lot of what was said that defined this generation was technology. Yet everything mentioned seemed very urban English-speaking middle-class - what about B40 without the same level of access to tech & the Internet? What about those whose primary language is Malay or Chinese or Tamil? Do they also fit in the demographic, or are they some sort of subculture within Gen Z? [Other side thought - do these generational analyses only apply to the English-speaking world? How does language change generational experiences?]

On a more or editorial level, the book would have benefited from tighter editorial control. If I understand the format correctly, each chapter is written by a different team of 3 students. This has resulted in varying levels of readability. There are some chapters that are a breeze to read and others that are filled with grammatical mistakes and extremely confusing sentences. Some seem to go a little more in-depth into why things are the way things are, others seem just to summarise and present whatever they found or are just extremely anecdotal.

Overall, What's the Tea With Gen Z is an informative read, though it could have benefited from more thoroughly thought out analysis. It contains a lot of information, but what it lacks is a strong narrative that pulls all this into a cohesive whole. However, as these are communications students and not researchers or analysts, I suppose I'll give them a pass on that.

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Wednesday 10 February 2021

#bookreview: The Long, Long Afternoon | Inga Vesper

The Long, Long Afternoon: The most atmospheric and compelling debut novel of the yearThe Long, Long Afternoon: The most atmospheric and compelling debut novel of the year by Inga Vesper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven't sat down and finished a whole book in one sitting recently, mostly because I've been reading (or trying to anyway) thick SFF works that are a gazillion pages long or something like that. But I picked up this wonderful mystery and finished in one go.

Sunnylakes, California is the picture-perfect rich, white American neighbourhood - until Joyce Haney disappears, leaving behind a bloody kitchen. The only ones who might know anything are little Barbara Haney and the help, Ruby Wright. But who's going to listen to them, a little girl and a black woman? Disgraced Detective Mick Blanke, apparently, since he has nothing else to lose.

Vesper paints a vivid picture of Joyce Haney and the darkness that lurks behind her picture-perfect life. But as much as it is about solving the crime, The Long, Long Afternoon is also about Ruby Wright, her dreams and ambitions, and all the things that stand in her way as a black woman in the fifties.

I'm not a huge fan of shifting POVs, but Vesper does it well, mostly shifting between Ruby and Mick, but also dropping in little snippets of Joyce's voice at apt moments.

In conclusion, The Long, Long Afternoon is a perfect Sunday afternoon read. I really enjoyed it.

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Saturday 6 February 2021

#coverreveal: Refined by HL Burke (@hlburkewriter)

Refined: Supervillain Rehabilitation Project Book 4, the final book in the SVR series by H. L. Burke releases March 5th 2021!

The book is on a special pre-order sale from February 4th through 14th, available for only 99 cents. This book is the endgame of the Marvelous superhero series, featuring adventure, humor, and a whole lot of heart.

Are you ready to save the day?


It’s hard to be a hero when crime is in your DNA.

Now a full-time hero with a beloved wife and treasured daughter, former supervillain Fade is certain nothing could take him down a dark path again. However, a mystery from his past lies in wait, a mystery tied to a part of his life he’d rather forget.

When DNA evidence reveals that Fade’s biological father is the elusive and enigmatic assassin known only as Syphon, Fade wants nothing to do with that mess.

Unfortunately, Fade can’t shake the target this newly discovered connection puts on him—and the backs of his friends and family.

Fade's only chance to fix things is taking down Syphon himself.

But Fade’s long-absent father has his own plans for their reunion.

Plans that could cost Fade everything he’s fought and bled to create.


About H. L. Burke

H. L. Burke has written more books than she can count—because she's written a lot of books, not just because she can't count very high.

Easily distracted by shinies, she has published in many sub-genres including fantasy romance, Steampunk, and superhero, and always creates story worlds with snark, feels, and wonder.

Married to her high school crush, she spends her time writing, spoiling her cat, and supervising her two supervillains in training (aka her precocious daughters).

An Oregon native, she wilts without trees and doesn't mind the rain. She is a fan of delicious flavor, a follower of the Light, and a believer in happily ever after.

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