Size Doesn’t Matter (100): Blood for Blood; You Can’t Touch My Hair

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (100): Blood for Blood; You Can’t Touch My HairBlood for Blood by Ryan Graudin
Narrator: Jessica Williams, John Hodgman, Phoebe Robinson
Series: Wolf by Wolf #2
Published by Little Brown BFYR on November 1, 2016
Genres: Alternate History, Adventure, Science Fiction
Pages: 481
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

There would be blood. Blood for blood. Blood to pay. An entire world of it.

For the resistance in the Third Reich, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun. Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against Hitler’s army, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.

But in the midst of the chaos, Yael’s past and future collide when she comes face to face with a ghost from her past, and a spark with a fellow rider begins to grow into something more. Dark secrets reveal dark truths and one question hangs over them all—how far can you go for the ones you love?

After my reread of Wolf by Wolf proved stellar, my excitement for Blood for Blood went through the roof, but it didn’t quite live up to the standard set by the first installment imo. There’s still a lot of great stuff to unpack here, but I struggled through this one much of the time.

The big difference is pacing. Where Wolf by Wolf had masterclass pacing and was nigh unputdownable, Blood for Blood moved sluggishly in fits and starts. The first book was constant action, but much of the second is slow tension in between small bursts of excitement. There’s a bit more of the quiet spy work and the debates about trustworthiness. The action-packed parts, I did like, and the end was great, but man I slogged through Blood for Blood.

Another contributing factor was the addition of more POVs, which made the story feel much more distanced and clunky. It’s primarily alternating between Yael, Luka, and Felix, though are the occasional chapters from other points of view, like Henryka and Miriam. I wasn’t particularly impressed with this method of storytelling, intended, clearly, to give the reader information Yael doesn’t have, but this actually lowers the intensity because the reader knows exactly who to trust and what’s up at all times. The flashback chapters to the childhoods of Yael, Luka, and Felix felt especially unnecessary. They didn’t show anything I didn’t mostly already know, and they threw off the forward motion of the book.

That said, there’s a lot that I do like about this sequel and series ender. Graudin makes some seriously bold moves and hard choices in how she concludes the book, and I think she does what she needed to. View Spoiler » The ending felt right, although I’d have preferred a lot of changes to the storytelling method on the way there.

Also, as a brief note: the German tossed into the story annoys me, especially the use of blitzkrieg to describe any quick attack. I’d have preferred the German be left out, rather than just a handful of words used over and over, especially since they’re occasionally used in odd ways, as with blitzkrieg.

Perhaps if I ever reread this series, I’ll find more to love about Blood for Blood but this time I struggled a lot with the glacial pacing and was thrown by the additional points of view. I still definitely liked it, but it was a bit disappointing.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (100): Blood for Blood; You Can’t Touch My HairYou Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson
Narrator: Phoebe Robinson, Jessica Williams, John Hodgman
Length: 7 hrs, 41 mins
Published by Penguin Audio on October 4, 2016
Genres: Nonfiction, Humor, Memoir
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
four-stars

A hilarious and affecting essay collection about race, gender, and pop culture from celebrated stand-up comedian and WNYC podcaster Phoebe Robinson.

Phoebe Robinson is a stand-up comic, which means that, often, her everyday experiences become points of comedic fodder. And as a black woman in America, she maintains, sometimes you need to have a sense of humor to deal with the absurdity you are handed every day. Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years: she's been unceremoniously relegated to the role of "the black friend," as if she is somehow the authority on all things racial; she's been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel ("isn t that . . . white people music?"); she's been called "uppity" for having an opinion in the workplace; she's been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. the. time. Now, she's ready to take these topics to the page and she s going to make you laugh as she s doing it.

Using her trademark wit alongside pop-culture references galore, Robinson explores everything from why Lisa Bonet is "Queen. Bae. Jesus," to breaking down the terrible nature of casting calls, to giving her less-than-traditional advice to the future female president, and demanding that the NFL clean up its act, all told in the same conversational voice that launched her podcast, "2 Dope Queens," to the top spot on iTunes. As personal as it is political, "You Can't Touch My Hair" examines our cultural climate and skewers our biases with humor and heart, announcing Robinson as a writer on the rise."

Going into this audiobook, I was actually unfamiliar with Phoebe Robinson, though it’s possible I saw her on Broad City, but I’m not totally current on that show, so I’m not even positive about that. However, I had seen a Goodreads friends flailing about how completely amazing this book was, so I nabbed it when it showed up in a round-up of potential review audiobooks. This was an excellent choice, fyi.

If you hang out in book Twitter, you’ve probably seen a person of color explaining what it’s like to be a POC in America. Or, you might see them saying that it’s not their job to educate you and that they don’t have the energy to do so. Either way, if you’re curious to learn more, Phoebe Robinson’s talking about all those sticky racial questions, and a lot of it is specifically directed to white listeners like myself. As Phoebe herself and people on Twitter say regularly, diversity isn’t a monolith, but if you want to educate yourself, this is one more voice you can listen to. The amazing thing here, too, is that Phoebe manages to do this while keeping the tone pretty light and the book funny. That’s an accomplishment.

You Can’t Touch My Hair has been probably my favorite of these memoir/essay collections that I’ve picked up on audiobook. I’ll definitely be searching for Phoebe Robinson’s work from here on out.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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