June 28, 2016

Shock value

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson was the May book from the feminist book club on Goodreads called Our Shared Shelf started by Emma Watson. This book was written in a style that I was completely unfamiliar with and which at first really threw me off. It's written almost as a stream of consciousness where there are broken paragraphs that at first seem as if they have no connection to one another. In fact, the first paragraph is a detailed description of the author engaging in anal sex. I guess she likes to shock the reader and/or pull them immediately into her narrative. (Hint: It worked.) This is the story of the author as she begins a relationship with her gender fluid partner (now spouse) and the navigating of that relationship while deciding to have a child together. She also becomes a stepparent to Harry's son from a prior relationship which is completely new territory in and of itself. Since reading The Argonauts, I have embarked on a campaign of knowledge about Nelson because this book is simply a snapshot of a few years of hers and Harry's lives. At the time that she was experiencing the struggles of trying to get pregnant Harry was undergoing changes as well (I don't want to give this away because it's such a powerful part of the book). Her description of her internalized experience as well as the observations of those around her are unique and frankly thrilling to read. Her writing is brash, dynamic, and surprising. She hits back against stereotypes of what it means to be gendered, queer, and in touch with oneself. In short, it's a powerful book that seeks to wake the slumbering activist in all of us. I highly recommend this one.


**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

June 24, 2016

Too much hype

Raise your hand if you kept hearing about the epic graphic novel Blankets by Craig Thompson. Chances are that the majority of you have at the very least heard of this book. It's continually touted as a must-read and so I finally grabbed it anticipating something that would knock me off of my feet. What I got instead was a thoroughly uncomfortable coming of age story that I didn't find particularly compelling. The art was not at fault. There were some truly lovely illustrations and I think the choice of keeping everything fairly muted in various shades of blue, black, and white was a good one. However, I couldn't get past how uncomfortable I found the story. Blankets is the true childhood tale of the author, Craig Thompson. The way that religion and relationships were depicted was problematic at best and psychologically troubling at worst. Craig grew up in a rural town as the oldest of two sons. The story starts with the two boys sharing a bed (not by their choice) and the arguments that ensued over the less than ideal situation. From the very start, I wondered if the cathartic writing of this book was the reason that Thompson wrote this. I say this because I think perhaps the author should seek professional help. As you know, I steer clear of spoilers here but I do feel that you should be forewarned that there are copious instances of child abuse in this book. The cruelty he and his brother faced disturbed my sleep while I was reading it and there were several times that I almost quit the book entirely. However, my hope that the end would prove worthwhile kept me turning the pages (and ultimately left me disappointed). If you're feeling particularly brave (or curious), then I can only wish you the best of luck with your quest. For me, the art alone wasn't worth it in the end. 3/10


**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

June 21, 2016

Dear Caitlin, I love you.

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran was the April book from the feminist book club on Goodreads called Our Shared Shelf started by Emma Watson. I am continually thankful for this book group as it has really opened my horizons to some truly fantastic and interesting books that I don't know I would have necessarily picked up on my own. I had heard SO much about this book in particular that I was starting to wonder if it was fated for me to read it. Yes, I have definitely fallen under Caitlin Moran's spell. I challenge anyone to read this book and not think she's the epitome of awesomeness. The basic premise of this book is that Caitlin feels that she has never truly known how to be a "woman" in all the ways that society/family/ourselves tell us are the defining characteristics of a "woman". She talks about growing up in a family of 8 as the oldest in a very poor household and her journey in discovering her place in feminism. However, it was her no-holds-barred satirical take on the pitfalls of trying to mold ourselves to fit one perfect mold that made me truly love this book. In fact, I'm going to end up this review with a few snippets from the book which I think tell you more about it than I ever could.


PS This is definitely an adult book. So be prepared.

Regarding lady gardening


Underwear drama


On being single


**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

June 18, 2016

Giveaway + 5 years of being Peculiar

It's been 5 years since Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs was published. In celebration of that and the upcoming film adaptation Quirk (that magnificent publisher) is holding giveaways and contests. Because they're awesome they've sent me a Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children tote to give away here on the blog. Hooray! All you need to do is comment below with what your peculiarity is to enter (your email address too please). I'll choose a random winner on July 1st and I'll send the tote your way. XD

As I said above, there are more contests and giveaways being hosted by Quirk on their site. You can head on over here to check that out. Good luck!



June 17, 2016

Start at the bottom and work your way to the top

If you've been reading the blog since the start of the new year then you'll remember my gobbling up of Lucy Knisley's books. (You can go back to these posts here, here, and here if you need a refresher or have no idea what I'm even talking about.) Well, I was finally able to get my hands on her first book, French Milk, which chronicles her 6 week stay in Paris with her mom when she turned 23. I had this book on hold for months and honestly I was a bit disappointed. However, because I know this was her first and her subsequent works were so much fun I'm inclined not to be too harsh. This book is entirely black and white which was kind of a bummer. She incorporates real photographs throughout which I actually really enjoyed.  I thought they lent a nice element when they coincided with her artistic interpretation. (She's included some of these in her other books at the very end.) While humorous at times, it lacks the zing of her subsequent books (which is one of my favorite parts). The art doesn't stand out as her best but I do think that's partly to do with the lack of color which I had come to expect of her. It's immediately clear to me how much she has grown as both an artist and a storyteller. Kudos, Lucy! Sometimes one finds that an author's later work lacks the punch and pizazz of their earlier forays but this is not the case with French Milk. I didn't find it nearly as compelling or engaging and I didn't feel a connection as I had with the other books of hers that I've read. I am very much looking forward to her newest which is all about her marriage and entitled Something New: Tales From a Makeshift Bride. If you haven't read any of Lucy's work to date then I think starting with French Milk will give you a greater appreciation for the rest of her body of work and in that vein I highly recommend it. However, if like me you started at a different point it kinda fell flat. 6/10



**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

June 14, 2016

A love letter to the literary giants of science fiction

I had high hopes for Arkwright by Allen Steele because the premise sounded so promising. A sci-fi book about a sci-fi author (touted as being a contemporary of Isaac Asimov) that bankrolled a gargantuan scientific project that could only be cooked up by a sci-fi enthusiast? Yes, please! The basic outline of this book is that through multiple generations of one family, the Arkwright clan, an interstellar space craft would be created and launched into the vast reaches of space in the hopes of colonizing a distant planet for future human inhabitation. Each section of the book focused on a different descendant of the original creator, Nathan Arkwright. The major problem for me was that I didn't especially like any of these characters. It isn't a necessity to like the characters you read about of course but it helps if you feel invested in them because otherwise their actions make no difference to you one way or the other...which is what happened to me. Halfway through, I almost gave this book up as a lost cause but I decided to soldier through in the hopes that the ending would knock my socks off. It did and it didn't. You can probably guess what the last chapter of a book about interstellar travel will contain but if you're looking for a huge crescendo then you're going to be disappointed. When I was contemplating giving this one up I looked up other reviews and someone mentioned how it would have been better if the ending had been expanded further. I agree. By focusing on the management of the company, the fiscal pitfalls, the construction of the ship, and the foibles of each of the family members Steele missed an opportunity to really knock it out of the park. If you're a huge sci-fi nerd (as I am) then you most likely won't fall in love with this book but if you're new to the genre or a fan of the generation ship trope then maybe this one will be a win for you. 4/10 for a great concept that didn't really deliver.


**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

June 10, 2016

From the world that brought you Jabba the Hutt

Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray was basically an excuse to read another book from the world that created Jedi Knights, the Force, and Darth Vader. I watched and didn't especially like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and when I heard that there was a prequel to the film out there I felt compelled to read it. (It makes sense to me, okay?) The main protagonist is Senator Leia Organa and the majority of the story takes place in the Senate. This may have been why this book felt quite slow at times because it is very political and less action packed (exactly zero lightsabers made an appearance) than I had expected. Of course, this book could be viewed as a setup for the action that takes places in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THIS FILM. However, there are still unanswered questions that this book did not address such as what was the final straw that broke up Han and Leia. In this book they are still happily married albeit their dedication to their jobs is already putting a strain on their relationship. Han is still a wanderer at heart and Leia is a slave to her senatorial duty. There's a division in the New Republic which spells trouble for the government that the Rebels fought so hard to obtain. I did get a bit choked up at one point because THE INJUSTICE. (If you read the book you'll understand why that had to be capitalized.) The most frustrating part of this book were the cast of characters which were introduced and didn't materialize in the movie which logically should have been the continuation of this story. I'm wondering if there is something else in between these two and that's why I felt that something was missing. All in all, it was an entertaining although not entirely satisfactory book taking place in the universe (haha space joke) of Star Wars. 7/10

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **