Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Book Review: Devil's Advocate

TITLE: Devil's Advocate
Book 2 in the X-Files Origins series (duology?)
AUTHOR: Jonathan Maberry
PUBLISHED: January 3rd, 2017
GENRE: Sci-Fi/Mystery
PREMISE: Teenage Scully moves to a new town and is plagued by dreams of a girl who was murdered...
MY REVIEW: A while back, I reviewed Agent of Chaos, a book about teenage Agent Mulder from the show the X-Files. This book is a companion of sorts about teenage Scully. It is much like the other book: it is a glimpse into a beloved character's teen years. It's a mystery like what happens on the show, and there are various easter eggs in there for long-time watchers of the X-Files.
For some reason...I didn't quite get into this one as much as I did with Agent of Chaos, which is strange because on the show, I am team Scully all the way. I think perhaps that was my problem: too high expectations. The Mulder book I didn't expect to love because while I am fond of Mulder and his constant quest for truth, I adore Scully even more. Another thing was...that honestly this didn't feel like a teenage Scully. I sort of felt like this was a random idea the author had, then got this book deal and so just dropped Scully into the idea to make it work. Whereas the other one definitely felt like teenage Mulder, this felt like...honestly a fanfic's idea of Scully.
It's not a bad book. The mystery is interesting, it's fast-paced and suits the X-Files world. It just...I don't know, this one just didn't click with me as much as the other one did and that's weird because Scully is my favorite and I expected to love this. I'm not sure if this is the author's fault or mine...possibly it is a combination of both. Who knows?
WHO SHOULD READ: X-Files fans, Scully fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five weird murders

Monday, March 27, 2017

Book Review: The Alchemists of Loom

TITLE: The Alchemists of Loom
Book 1 in the Loom Saga
AUTHOR: Elise Kova
PUBLISHED: January 10th, 2017
GENRE: Steampunk/Fantasy
PREMISE: In a world at war, Ari survives as best she can. Her latest job however, gets more complicated when she makes a deal with a dragon...
MY REVIEW: Looking for fun fast-paced steampunk? Then I highly recommend this new series. It does have all the usual trappings of steampunk: there's the badass female lead, magic, world at war, rebels, etc. But this author manages to put a fresh spin on all the usual tropes.
The world-building is a little bit shaky. I wish there were more details here and there. But I suspect that's coming in the second book. This one is mostly action oriented so it goes by really quick. I actually managed to read it in a day. Also, for some reason people keep putting this into the young adult category on Goodreads. Yeah, no guys. This is adult. All the characters are adults. Just because something is a fantasy, doesn't automatically put it in the YA category. There's also LGBT representation, though I hesitate to call it good representation. The author seems to go out of their way to avoid discussing Ari's sexuality even though she's clearly attracted to both men and women. I'm not sure if that's a world-building thing or what.
If you're in the mood for just a fun action-packed steampunk series to start, this one is definitely a good way to go. Apparently the author has written other books. I think I'm going to be looking into them sometime in the future.
WHO SHOULD READ: Steampunk fans, Elise Kova fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five shape-shifting dragons

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Your Syllabus For: Modern Feminism Reads

So we've come to the most recent years of feminism. There's been a lot of change these past few years, to say the least. I still don't know whether it counts as a new forth wave or not, but it has been exciting to watch. Thanks to this change, there have been a LOT of feminist books published these past five years. Here are just some of the highlights to read to get a good view of modern feminism:

I Am Malala: The Story of a Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

Honestly, just read this one regardless of whether or not you're interested in feminism.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

There are issues surrounding this one, but it has been a big part of feminism for awhile now, so...

Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive by Julia Serano

Daily reminder: feminism is like all movements and not perfect. Read this book to learn how to make things better.

Angelou's Autobiographies: Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou

Anything by Kiersten White

Anything by Courtney Summers (particularly All the Rage)

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

Otherwise known as the book that coined the term mansplaining. Which, is a real thing (seriously just spend ten minutes being a female in a geek space, you will get mansplained at least something), but has kind of gotten misused more and more recently, I feel.

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding

You Don't Have to Like Me by Alida Nugent

The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future (and other books) by A. S. King

Bitch Planet graphic novel series by Kelly Sue DeConnick

We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This tiny book explains feminism perfectly. Unfortunately the author just recently said some rather transphobic things so...her intersectional feminism definitely needs a lot of work. But that doesn't change the fact that the things said in here are important.

Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Politt

Asking for It by Louise O'Neill

The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution by Jonathan Eig

Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski

I Call Myself a Feminist: The View From Twenty-Five Women Under Thirty by various authors

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More by Janet Mock

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

Lean Out: The Struggle for Gender Equality in Tech and Start-Up Culture by Elissa Shevinsky

Lumberjanes graphic novel series

Ms. Marvel graphic novel series by G. Willow Wilson

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Also check out basically everything else she writes because Gay is awesome.

The Feminist Utopia Project: Fifty-Seven Visions of a Wildly Better Future by various authors

The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley

Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis

Some new releases from 2017 to check out:

Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World by Kelly Jensen and various authors

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson

Why I am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto by Jessa Crispin-I've heard...very mixed things about this one, so I'd proceed with caution into it.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

Dear Ijeawele: Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Nasty Women by various authors

We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere by Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel

The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Notable Releases 3/19-3/25

Here are some of the releases of this past week that are on my radar (so expect future reviews of them at some point), I think people might want to know about, or are just big buzz worthy books of the moment.


Wide-Awake Princess series Book 6: The Princess and the Pearl by E.D. Baker

If you have a tween who is still riding high from the Beauty and the Beast movie, absolutely give them this series.

Miss Ellicott's School For the Magically Minded by Sage Blackwood

This sounds like so much fun and right up my ally. I can;t wait to get my hands on it.

Project Nemesis Book 1: Nemesis by Brendan Reichs

Interesting looking, possibly science fictiony, thriller.

Adult Fiction:

Interdependency 1: The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

The latest Scalzi book. Personally, I'm still waiting for my sequel to Lock In.


The Polygamist's Daughter by Anna LeBaron

Interesting looking memoir that's been getting some buzz.

City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris by Holly Tucker

Interesting looking history book.

Comics/Graphic novels:

Over the Garden Wall Vol. 1 TP
Rust Vol. 2: Secrets of the Cell TP
Cyborg Vol. 1: The Imitation of Life TP
DMZ Vol. 3 TP
Flintstones Vol.1 TP
Civil War II: Fallout TP
Deadpool: Too Soon TP
Iron Fist: The Book of Changes TP
Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl Vol. 5: Like I'm the Only Squirrel in the World TP

Friday, March 24, 2017

Book Review: Human Acts

TITLE: Human Acts
AUTHOR: Han Kang
PUBLISHED: January 17th, 2017 (in the US)
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Drama
PREMISE: Several different people recall their experiences during a violent student uprising in South Korea
MY REVIEW: So confession time: I tried to read The Vegetarian last year. Which was the book that Kang first wrote that finally got translated to English in 2016 and has basically put Han Kang's name on the map now. I...couldn't get into it. I got what the author was doing. Her writing was damn good in it. It...just wasn't for me, so I wound up ditching it. But I thought perhaps it was just because I'm not into horror all that much. So I decided to give Kang one more shot with this one. Luckily, this one was much more my speed.
I do admit...I was a bit confused at places. It's a very metaphorish sort of book and the author tends to assume you know about the event she's talking about. This is a fair assumption. This was published in Korean first and from what I've been able to gather, this event was huge in South Korea. Me...well, we don't get much news about other countries out here unless that news directly involves the US somehow. So...I was lost in places to say the least. But, I understood enough to get the gist of what happened.
This book is beautifully written. I may not have understood some of the historical bits going on, but there was enough commentary on human nature and whatnot for it to not really matter.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of The Vegetarian, literature fans, Murukami/asian literature fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five gorgeous sentences

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Reading Through the Classics (Play Script Version!): A Raisin in the Sun

TITLE: A Raisin in the Sun
AUTHOR: Lorraine Hansberry
GENRE: Realistic Fiction/Family Drama
PREMISE: In Chicago, a family during the forties live out their lives...
MY THOUGHTS: I'm still very new to this reading a play thing. But I am very quickly growing to like it. Play reading is very quick and if the play is damn good, like this one is, it can pack a powerful punch in just under two hundred or so pages. Sometimes even more punch then a novel can. This particular edition I got from the library talked about some of the history of Raisin in the Sun and I wish I could be shocked that apparently there were productions where people white-washed a play that is basically about being black in America, but I've learned to never underestimate people's ability to white-wash something.
One thing that quickly struck me is that despite the fact that this was written over fifty years ago, it's still relevant. In fact, I kind of want them to do a revival of it on Broadway. I have a feeling it would resonate with people like whoa. I bet you could do a modern adaptation of it and not have to lose much because many of the topics are still relevant. Which is both amazing...and sad, especially where the racism part is concerned.
If you're a fan of plays, or are just getting into them, absolutely pick this one up. It's a good beginner play and gives you lots to think about and digest.
WHO SHOULD READ: James Baldwin fans, theater nerds

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

So You've Finally: Read Heartless

So you've finally gotten around to Heartless by Marissa Meyer (hey, me too!) and you loved it. Here's what to read next. For the record, this list assumes you have read Meyer's series Lunar Chronicles already. If you have not read it, then that is a great place to start. Same with the source material book: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol

You want more Alice in Wonderland retellings/reimagings:

The Looking Glass Wars Trilogy by Frank Beddor

Older Alice in Wonderland trilogy that imagines that in fact, Alice was a princess in Wonderland who cam to our world to escape bloodshed and then as a grown teen, goes back to take back wonderland. In other words: what I wish Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland could have been.

Splintered series by A. G. Howard

I won't lie: this series has its issues, but this version of Wonderland is so imaginative that I sort of forgive the sigh-worthy tropes that abound in this series. The love triangle was also one of the few that doesn't force one guy under the bus in favor of another so that was a nice change. I still think they should have just ended in OT3...but alas, this is YA.

Did Lewis Carroll write anything else? (the answer is yes):

Jabberwocky and Other Nonsense: Collected Poems by Lewis Carroll

Along with Alice in Wonderland, Carroll wrote several poems, one of which whose titles you may recognize from Heartless...

You want to know more about Lewis Carroll:

Lewis Carroll: A Biography by Morten N. Cohen


The Mystery of Lewis Carroll: Discovering the Whimsical, Thoughtful, and Sometimes Lonely Man Who Created Alice in Wonderland by Jenny Woolf

Random things you may be interested in:

Alice, I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin

Great historical fiction book about the real girl who inspired the character of Alice. Also gives some good insight into Lewis Carroll.

Beware the Little White Rabbit by various authors

Short story collection that has several stories that give various nods to Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Verse: The Lost Rhymes of Wonderland by J. T. Holden

Poetry book that reimagines Alice in Wonderland

Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast by Jane Yolen

Short story collection that has at least one story referencing Alice in Wonderland.

The Search for Wondla series by Tony Diterlizzi

Middle-gradeish series that sort of borrows from Wonderland with beautiful illustrations throughout the book from the guy who illustrated The Spiderwick Chronicles series.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Book Review: Shrill-Notes From a Loud Woman

TITLE: Shrill-Notes From a Loud Woman
AUTHOR: Lindy West
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Essays/memoirs
PREMISE: Online writer Lindy West talks about various topics including how  being a feminist online has effected her.
MY REVIEW: I am somewhat familiar with Lindy West's work before this. I do occasionally read Jezebel (very occasionally, it sometimes gets a little too white feminist for my taste), and I remember one of the incidents that she talks about in this book. So I was a little interested in reading this.
For the most part, I liked it a lot. West is an engaging writer. It gets a tad repetitive in places. Sometimes she does repeat things a lot. But lets face it: a lot incidents with internet trolls tend to go about the same. So that's probably a large part of it. I had to put the book down because so much of the harassment she receives for basically voicing an opinion, just really makes you question whether there's any empathy left in the world at like, all. There is one story at the end that gives a little hope, but it is very little as it's just one person realizing what a colossal jerk they were.
At times this mostly just feels a bit ranty (I know, I probably shouldn't judge that). The stuff she's writing about is interesting (at least to me) so I don't mind that much. If you like memoirs dealing with subjects like feminism and weight issues and whatnot, this is a good one to look into.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Lindy West, feminists, people who like social commentary essays
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five essays to nod along at too

Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Review: Heartless

TITLE: Heartless
AUTHOR: Marissa Meyer
PUBLISHED: November 2016
GENRE: Fantasy, Classic Book Referencing
PREMISE: A reimagining of the world of Alice in Wonderland that looks at the Queen of Hearts before she became the woman Alice knew in the books...
MY REVIEW: I bought this one a while ago because I love Lunar Chronicles and basically everything Marissa Meyer writes, I'm probably going to be buying. Especially if it's great ideas like this one is. I wanted this since the moment I heard about it. For the most part, it did not disappoint.
Now, I'm going to address the elephant in the room: it is not as good as Lunar Chronicles. But that hardly means it's bad. I just don't love it nearly as much as I did that series. It's not really Heartless' fault, I just fangirled really hard over Lunar Chronicles so it's going to take a lot to top it for me. Heartless' main fault is that it is terribly slow. Especially in the beginning. I also...am not fond of the insta-love thing that happened with Jest. Granted, at least Jest wasn't a douche, so there's that. But still, enough insta-love writers. We notice it. It doesn't work.
But despite the slowness and the insta-love bits, this wound up being a rather good character study of the Queen of Hearts and what might have made her the way she was. I can't help but think of the Alice Through the Looking Glass movie because that tried to do a small backstory bit on the Queen of Hearts and....yeah, this version is much better. Not that that would be hard, Alice Through the Looking Glass had lots of story problems.
For the most part, I think this was a successful book. The characters were developed (well, aside from Jest), the writing was Meyer's usual great combination of setting/dialogue. It was a plausible what-could-have-happened before that didn't retcon any of the original Alice in Wonderland to make things easier for the author either. All in all, I enjoyed this one a lot.
WHO SHOULD READ: Marissa Meyer fans, Alice in Wonderland fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five plausible back stories

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Your Syllabus for: Third Wave Feminism

Continuing on from last week's list of second wave feminism, here is your syllabus for third wave feminism. For those that don't know, third wave feminism started around the early nineties. Some say it's still going on, others say we've actually already entered into a forth wave around 2008 or so (some say it was around 2014ish. There's much debate). I have no idea if we are in the forth wave or not. I'm not in charge of deciding these things. I can tell you, I feel like there's been a bit of a shift of focus at least in books, these last few years. But I'm not sure if that means we're in a new wave of feminism. For the sake of this list I'm doing feminist books published between 1990 and 2011. I'm going to do a final list next week that wraps up all the more recent feminism books. I'm doing this because in the last five years or so, there has been a huge boom in feminist non-fiction and I don't want to miss any due to post length.

The Beauty Myth">The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf

Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi

Listen Up: Voices From the Next Feminist Revolution by Barbara Findlin and others

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Tortall series and the Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce
The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler

Women Who Run With Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archtype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes-Note, the Our Shared Shelf group is reading this now for book club, if you decide pick it up and need to discuss it.

Earthseed series (and other things) by Octavia Butler

Fun Home and The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment by Patricia Hill Collins

Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought by Beverly Guy-Shefthall and others

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks (and honestly read all the rest of her books too.

Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism by Daisy Hernandez

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

In the Time of Butterflies (and others) by Julia Alvarez

Daughter of Fortune (and other books) by Isabel Allende
Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg

Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future by Jennifer Baumgardiner

Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Feminity by Julia Serano

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins by Emma Donaghue

Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti-Any Valenti book is probably going to be a good look into third wave feminist thought, but this is one that put her on the map.

Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape by Jacklyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti

Half the Sky: Turning Opression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

BITCHfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine by various authors (Bitch is a great feminist magazine out there for those that don't know.

Persopolis comic by Marjane Satrapi

Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory: Practicing Solidarity by Chandra Talpade Mohanty

Feminism and Pop Culture by Andi Ziesler

When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women From 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins

Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism's Work is Done by Susan J. Douglas

Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists by various authors

Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, and Abortion by various authors

Some books published recently dealing with third wave feminism:

We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to Covergirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement by Andi Zeisler

This deals a lot with the 90s and 00s. If you're looking for a peak at what was going on in the world during this time, this is a good book to look into.

Next week: Modern Feminist Books