Off to a slow start this morning, trying to get my parents set up with Netflix Party chrome extension, so that in these troubling times we can have family movie night. But, my first book is The Beautiful Death by Amy Rose Capetta.
I finished this book in January’s 24 in 48. And, it was so good. Why am I just reviewing it now? So I can link to it in my Top 5.
This novel is the story of a woman painter, Isobel, who is patronized by fairies. She paints portraits and is always very careful about what she does and what she asks for as payment. That is, until she meets Rook. Then, as it happens in fantasy novels, they get a little close, they get a little familiar, the portrait makes Rook’s people question his authority and then! Bam! Action! Conflict! Excitement!
I really enjoyed this novel. I liked Isobel as a character so much. I liked Isobel and Rook’s relationship. I liked the outside characters enforcing the bs that drove the central conflict. This was a really fun book and I look forward to reading more from Margaret Rogerson.
So, book club is tonight and thankfully what I’m working on right now can be done with a book in the background…because I am no where near finished with it.
THIS BOOK IS TOO CUTE. It is melting my cold, cold heart. Also, it’s gotten Boy with Luv by BTS stuck in my head WHICH IS ALSO TOO CUTE. I like being a cynic, so I kinda of hate both the book and the song right now.
If I have to live in this twee hell full of adorable humans all googly eyed with love, so does everyone else.
This was a book I read for my book club. It is about Merricat, Constance and Uncle Julian Blackwood. They are the last the illustrious Blackwood clan. They live in the family manor. Constance has not left the house in six years and Uncle Julian is in a wheelchair because of a terrible incident that has befallen the family.
Merricat goes to the store and the library once a week. But, everything is about to be turned on its head.
The incident that befell the family is that the rest of the family was poisoned and Constance was put on trial for their murders. Uncle Julian is in his wheel chair because of the poisoning incident. They are visited by Cousin Charles, who befriends Constance. They start to talk about Constance trying to reintegrate into society. From here a chain reaction of sorts leads to the revelation of who really killed the rest of the Blackwood Clan and why. This all leads up to a second incident that changes their lives forever.
At first, I wasn’t into this novel. But, the more I read it, the creepier and more interesting it got. It was a fun little read.
So, if you’re interested in families with secrets, sympathetic magic, and creepy narratives, I recommend you pick this one up.
Everyone, I have a confession to make. I don’t think I like Margaret Atwood’s writing. (Although, I’ve been told I’ve only read the meh ones). I’ve read Oryx and Crake and The Penelopiad and now the(I think I may have also read The Handmaid’s Tale in high school but I don’t remember how it ends so I’m not counting it.) And, I’ve not been super enthused about any of them.
The Blind Assassin seems to be going for a certain kind of style and I think it succeeds. So, I can recognize that it is technically a good piece of writing. But, the main narrative which was focused on the lives of two sisters, did not keep my interest at all. The story is told by Iris, an old woman recounting her life in letters. She tells the story of her childhood as the daughter of button magnate in Ontario. World War I happens. The business booms. the depression happens. The business fails. She and her sister fall in love with a communist or anarchist or writer or artist. Iris marries another manufacturing giant to help the family stay afloat. Her sister Laura publishes a book called The Blind Assassin that becomes a huge scandal and therefore a huge hit.
The sub-plot (sub-story?) about the Blind Assassin was awesome. I wanted to read the Blind Assassin. More of that, please. But, the main narrative itself…well, I could see where it was going and I wasn’t interested enough to be excited that as the plot revealed itself and I was right in my guesses.
So, there you have it. I feel like I should have loved this. And, I didn’t. It wasn’t terrible. But, it also wasn’t life-changing. I don’t recommend it but I also don’t not recommend it.
Oof. I’ve been letting the team down. And, it hasn’t been because I haven’t been reading (as anyone who follows me on goodreads knows). It also hasn’t been because I haven’t been writing. This review has been in draft for a month. But, this review has been a long time coming for the following reason: I can’t believe I’m going to review this amazing book with a narrative that centers on the experiences of an African-American woman talking about a white male character. But, I am.
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler is the story of a woman named Dana who is sent back in time to the antebellum South. She is pulled there by an ancestor who is, to put it mildly, not very good at taking care of himself. Over the course of the narrative, we are introduced over and over again to the horrors of slavery in an intimate and heartbreaking way. This book was amazing for it’s tension and suspense. I loved Dana and I wanted to know what happened to her. I was scared for her and I wanted there to be a happy ending. But, it is also uncomfortable. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “but there were good slave owners”, this fictional story might be a good way into interrogating those feelings because, even when an overseer or owner was fair, any outcome that involves owning another person is horrific.
Spoilers behind the cut.
Finally getting around to reading a book club pick from earlier this year.
Image from Books on the Nightstand
Yesterday, Beth gave us her list of things she is grateful for this year and now I am going to share what I am grateful for. I am so grateful for this blog. Having this space to share my thoughts about the books I’m reading and knowing that other people actually read it is surprising and humbling and wonderful. I love reading and I love talking about books and I’m so happy to have a place to do that. Thank you for stopping by!
I am grateful for audible. In this past year I have doubled the number of books in my audio book library and I’ve listened to more books but I have read. Being able to listen while I drive, cook, clean and work out at the gym has been a nice distraction from a whole bunch of necessary activity I don’t normally enjoy. As a PhD student, audio books have given me a way to keep up with something I love without feeling guilty about eating into time I could be working on my dissertation. Multi-tasking, FTW!
I am grateful for the Buffalo and Erie County Public Libraries. Like Beth, I have eleventy billion books in my house and I do not need any more books in my house. For now. The library has helped me keep my book habit in check by giving me so many options to check out. I love the library! I love the library’s website! I (mostly) have loved the books I have borrowed this year!
I am thankful for book groups and reading assignments. I wouldn’t have read All the Light We Cannot See, Beauty Queens, Who Fears Death? (even though it was my pick for book club!), and all of Rainbow Rowell’s books if it had not been for book club and the pop culture homework assignment. I am so grateful for both of those things because I really enjoyed all of those books.
We hope that you have a happy holiday season! We also wish you happy reading! Thank you for sharing our reads with us!
I’ve found myself thinking about Libbi Bray’s Beauty Queens a lot in the past few days. (That link is to Beth’s awesome review of the book.) As Beth mentions in the review, Bray does a good job of capturing certain expectations about women. (spoilers ahead). In the book, there is a subplot about the Corporation, a mega-company bent on continuing to push into illegal markets and trades, and the beauty queens throw a wrench in the works by crash landing in the middle of the operation. From the moment of the crash landing, the queens are completely underestimated. As Beth said, “They are just girls so they are not that important. They won’t survive long. Right?” This part of the book captures how old ideas about gender still cling on even though advancements have been made. But, Bray did a good portraying another dynamic as well and this is what I want to talk about today. Changing norms have made some space at the top of many fields for women to succeed, but it hasn’t really leveled the playing field. Some women have an advantage over other women because of other ways our societies are unfair. This plays out in the book through the interactions of two non-white characters Nicole, an African American woman, and Shanti, an Indian immigrant. In the book, they know that there is only room in the top ten for one non-white contestant and that makes them leery of each other. They also know that their faults will be scrutinized more than their white counterparts, a subplot seen through the eyes of Nicole as she remembers the last time an African American contestant had a sex scandal and it ruined her chances of success (even though the consequences for white contestants wouldn’t be as severe).
This has been on my mind because some of those dynamics have been in the news recently. If you are at all interested in pop culture, you may have heard that the 2015 MTV VMA award nominations are out and that Nicki Minaj is not happy with them. After the release of the nominations she took to twitter and stated that she felt that her videos for Anaconda and Feeling Myself were slighted because of the type of artist she is and that other artists doing what she does in her videos are rewarded. She also stated that because she wasn’t celebrating particular types of bodies, she wasn’t getting as much love from the awards committee. I don’t watch a lot of music videos, any really, and I don’t think I’ve seen any of the videos nominated (although, I have seen Anaconda). Then, Taylor Swift took Minaj’s comments personally. I would like to suggest that part of the reason why Swift might take Minaj’s comments personally is that she knows that there is a limited amount of space for women at the top of her field and she works hard and is unwilling to give up that space. Minaj’s twitter criticisms are valid: as a society we do value certain bodies higher than other bodies and this is not only seen in how we reward people but also in how treat people in general.
Beauty Queen was an interesting book because it brought intersectionalism, the idea that people may be operating in a space under more than one type of oppression, into the conversation meant for teen audiences about how women are treated. And, while I found the book to be funny and moving, this broadening of the conversation of what feminism is and who it best serves might be the most important part of the book.