Queen of Blood Thoughts

Loved Tamora Pierce growing up, her Tortall books had everything that I needed–strong female characters, magic, adventure, and romance.

So you better believe when Tamora Pierce blurbs a book and says “Thrilling–heartrending–enchanting–absolutely un-put-down-able!” then I’m all over it.

Happily reading The Queen of Blood. 

 

The Queen of Blood

Queen of Blood Thoughts

YA Book Thoughts

  • The Black Witch, a YA novel set in a misogynistic and racist society with an unlikeable main character, has received a ton of controversy. Today, I read the Vulture piece about the backlash but I still need to read the original criticism that was the rallying cry for the book’s critics. I’m fascinated by the whole thing, the book’s author has really hit a nerve here and the reaction has shown the power and limitations of social media when it comes to literary criticism.
  • Finished reading The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid about a genetically modified humanoid named Nemesis, a killing machine that looks like a teenaged girl. The author has described the book as I, Claudius set in space, and I can definitely see the merit in that. Reminded me a lot of Red Rising with the revolution plot against an oppressive society and government, the main character’s attempts at concealing their true nature, and the court intrigue of a decadent society with violence ready to erupt from beneath its shallow surface. The books would be interesting to compare side-by-side because of gender swapping of the characters and how they handle certain situations. Both are satisfying and made me want to beat my chest, gather comrades, and overthrow something.
  • Went to the library today and walked away with:
    • Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy (author of Dumplin’)
    • Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
    • Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
YA Book Thoughts

Feminist Book Thoughts

  • Laurie Penny is awesome and was recently at the Harvard Bookstore. I couldn’t make it to the event but heard that it sparked an interesting audience q&a. Her new book, Bitch Doctrine a collection of feminist essays, is definitely on my reading list.
  • What the heck is Unwanted Advances about? Laura Kipnis is described as a feminist cultural critic, but some of the language the publisher blurb uses to describe it makes me wary–the “new sexual McCarthyism on higher education” and “sexual paranoia” on campus.
  • I’m enjoying reading The Secret History of Wonder WomanJill Lepore is an engaging writer and makes the most of a truly batty story all against the backdrop of the women suffrage movement. Marston was the self-proclaimed inventor of the lie detector while behaving like a snake oil salesman for psychology long before he had the idea for Wonder Woman. He had an unusual home life in a relationship with 2 women, 1 took care of the kids and the other worked and supported the family. The women are the truly interesting characters here. Olive Byrne was the niece of Margaret Sanger and Elizabeth Holloway the editor of the Encyclopedia Brittanica. 
Feminist Book Thoughts

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Quick plot summary: Country mouse Margaret Hale moves to a Northern town in England with her family, befriends a cotton factory worker and his daughter, and feuds with the handsome cotton mill owner John Thornton.

After watching the BBC mini-series, I was inspired to read Gaskell’s North & South. The mini-series is fantastic. If you like longing looks…

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Or looks out windows…

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North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

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Margaret Atwood is an author who I will give the benefit of doubt and read anything she writes. Her blending of feminism and speculative fiction (her term)/science fiction (generally recognized) is satisfying. Her versions of a not-so-distant future are never too far from the present which makes them even more harrowing. They seem possible and because of that all the more urgent.

How could I not read The Heart Goes Last? It’s her first speculative fiction outside of her fabulous Maddaddam Trilogy. Be cautioned, the advertising around this novel is  misleading. This isn’t a new book. Atwood initially published the book as a string of serial stories on Byliner beginning with I’m Starved for You and ending with The Heart Goes Last. The book appears to be a compilation of these stories with some light editing for its final format.

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The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Short Reviews, Quick Takes

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In The Visitors Lucy is recovering from a typhoid fever in Egypt with her American governess at her side. She is listless and unable to focus on the living until she meets and befriends Frances Winlock whose father is an archaeologist. Soon she becomes part of a crowd which includes Howard Carter, Lord Carnavon, and others who discover King Tut’s tomb. This discovery mold’s Lucy’s life.

A bleak book crowded with historical figures and events. The discovery takes place in the 1920s, but the book dwells in the disastrous events afterwards and follows Lucy to her old-age. There are so many disasters and ghosts. Beauman appears to be grieving for an age of exploration and adventure that is long past. I couldn’t help but wish that this book had more joy in it and less history.

Continue reading “Short Reviews, Quick Takes”

Short Reviews, Quick Takes

Feminist Non-Fiction Recent Reads

Hungry to learn more about feminism and feminist topics? Here are some of my recent reads that are highly recommended for your bookshelf.

  1. Big Girls Don’t Cry by Rebecca Traister. A look at the 2008 presidential election through a feminist lens. Why do feminists love or hate Hillary Clinton? What does Sarah Palin’s bid say about the state of feminism in politics? What was accomplished and how far do we have to go for how the media treats women in politics? This book will make you angry, but it will also make you think.
  2. The End of Men by Hanna Rosin. She examines the decline of men from an economics perspective and the rise of women. There are some fascinating anecdotes and chapters—for example did you know that the once purely masculine field of pharmacy is now dominated by women? Important book for your library, but do be aware that it has some issues including an over-emphasis on ‘hook-up’ culture.
  3. The Birth of The Pill by Jonathan Eig. What led to the creation of the oral contraceptive? Why haven’t there been many advances in this science? This book provides a thorough and engaging look at this important scientific discovery and will make you understand the battles fought to even reach the current reality of family planning and sexual health in the U.S.
  4. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. Gay is my favorite cultural critic. She takes a look at pop-culture touchstones and considers why they’re problematic for women, why they’re popular in the first place, and why she likes them even as a feminist. She is funny, poignant, and a must-read. She doesn’t put feminism on an altar, but shows how important it is to critically engage with the books, movies, and artists that you love from a feminist perspective.
  5. Unspeakable Things by Laurie Penny. She takes a look at gender and power in the 21st century through a series of essays. These are at times heart-breaking, but necessary reads.
  6. Missoula by Jon Krakauer. This is an enraging, upsetting, powerful book about the difficult topic of rape in a small college town. Between 2008 and 2012 there were 350 reported sexual assaults in Missoula. Krakauer investigates rape culture, how rape victims are treated in the justice system, and by academic institutions. If you ever wonder why so many sexual assaults go unreported, this book will enlighten you.
  7. Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott. This historical account looks at 4 female historical figures on both sides of the Civil War. During a time period where we know a lot about the men who made history, but very little about the women who influenced events–Abbott spotlights: a woman who dresses as a man and becomes a solider in the Union army, a Southern Belle who uses her wiles to aid the Confederates, a woman who led a spy ring, and a woman who organized prison escapes and other countermeasures in the South. This book reads like a historical adventure novel and really shows that truth can be stranger than fiction.
  8. Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff. Speaking of historical feminist non-fiction, I would be remiss in not including Stacy Schiff. She peels back the myths that surround Cleopatra to reveal her political genius, her affairs, and her leadership. A great look at one of the most powerful and mysterious female historical icons of ancient times.
Feminist Non-Fiction Recent Reads

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

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Digby is trouble with a capital ‘T.’ Ever since his sister disappeared, he has been obsessed with solving the mystery even if it means breaking the law. When another girl goes missing in River Heights he’s convinced that the two disappearances are related and goes on a reckless, hilarious, and dangerous quest to solve the case.

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Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

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There is too much banter in a lot of young adult fiction. I blame Joss Whedon. Brennan has to be a Buffy fan, you can tell it with the pointless jokes during crises, conversations that go nowhere and a group of friends who might as well be the Scooby gang.

I liked Buffy, but so many people are trying to write this way that some are bound to fail.

So. Much. Banter.

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Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan