Uncategorized · wrap up

January 2017 Wrap Up

I hate January because it’s the weird slump after the holidays when you realize all the festivities are over and you have to go back to real life. It also always feels like the longest month even though there are other months that have 31 days. I had a pretty ordinary January so I won’t be doing a favorites this month, I’m just going to combine it with my February favorites. And now, the books.

Image result for dragon flight book
3/5

The first book of 2017 I read was: Dragon Flight by Jessica Day George

This is the sequel to Dragon Slippers that I read last month. I don’t know what happened but the things I thought were endearing and charming in the last book grew to be irritating and annoying in this one. I think it’s because the characters were now a little too kitschy and gimmicky. Overall, it was still cute and fun but didn’t have that same charm as Book one. I still recommend the first book if you’re looking for a cute pick-me-up.

 

I then finally read a Sarah Waters book: The Little Stranger

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3.5/5

I first wanted to read this because I was looking for a gothic novel set in a creepy mansion that may or may not have a ghost in it. And I got that..somewhat. I loved the descriptions of the mansion and all its mysterious rooms and hallways. What I didn’t love so much was the repetitiveness. One of the characters in the book would tell Dr. Faraday, the main character, that some weird shit was happening and they were really scared and they would think it’s a supernatural entity but then Dr. Faraday would deny this and the cycle would repeat over and over again (esp in the last half of the book). GIRL, let me enlighten you: IT’S A GHOST. Also, the author spoonfed me everything that the characters were thinking so they grew kind of bland. It was also way too long for it to keep the suspense it was trying so hard to build up. But overall, I’d still recommend it (with reservations) for a historical fiction ghost story (it’s not really that scary). I still intend to read Fingersmith by this author; it seems well-received.

Luna: New Moon by Ian Mcdonald

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3.5/5

I don’t like to use the whole “this book is x meets x” but I’m going to break my own rule. If we can remember that this is its own book, I am going to say that it has a lot of similarities to Game of Thrones. So basically Game of Thrones on the moon. It follows a huge cast of characters that all have ulterior motives; they’re all vying for power for their families; there’s sex; there’s violence; a cut throat world. Perfect HBO bait. And I actually liked it. I thought the worldbuilding on the moon was super interesting because there are no rules. Everything is based on contract and negotiation and people’s lives are based on how much oxygen they have. It took me a minute to warm up to these characters because we had to know so many and the way Macdonald writes the third person is really detached but I did end up engaged. The cast of characters are diverse in ethnicity (the main family is Brazilian) and there’s an equal balance of male and female players and the female players are respected for different reasons (happily, no rape plot device).

 

The rest of the novels I have reviews for. I read two books that explored rape culture and everyday sexism. One I loved, the other not so much. Click on the pictures to be linked to my reviews =)

Image result for asking for itImage result for the female of the species

 

I have a huge graphic novel recommendations post coming within the month where I’ll write more about these two graphic novels. Let me know if you have any specific types of graphic novels you want me to recommend, I’d be happy to oblige!

Something New: Takes from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley

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4/5

Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoet

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3/5

What books did you read this January? And again, if you have any genre or types of graphic novel recommendations that you would like me to mention in my recs post, let me know! I hope you all have a wonderful February 🙂

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book review · Uncategorized

Book Review: The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

to-ashley

I decided to give this book a shot after hearing it was such an insightful deconstruction of rape culture and everyday misogyny. Instead what I got was that odd feeling of reading a different book than everyone else and a lot of wasted potential.

Three years ago, Alex Craft’s sister was raped and murdered and now Alex spends her time getting violent revenge on those those who have wronged women. We follow two other perspectives: one is from Jack who is the school’s golden boy who’s really interested in Alex and Peekay, the preacher’s kid who befriends Alex. She is dealing with the aftermath of breaking up with her boyfriend and seeing him with someone else. Both Jack and Peekay form friendships with Alex throughout the book. It fits mostly into the coming of age of YA contemporary.

What could have been an amazing look at victim blaming and slutshaming in our culture right now especially in high school turned into such a generic story. Where did it all go wrong? First of all, one that thing that stood out to me was the overcliched romance. Popular jock (Jack) is in love with Alex, the outcast girl. Can it get any more cliche just from the setup alone? Jack’s perspective was all about how interested he was in Alex and what a special snowflake he thought she was

Other girls push the dress code, showing a solid few inches of cleavage or leggings that hug so tight you don’t need an imagination…But Alex is different, remarkable because her clothes are utterly nondescript.

But Jack’s perspective is apparently about more than just the generic romance. A lot of reviews I’ve seen have said that Jack stands for the male gaze and the ingrained problematic views that comes with that privilege. If that’s the case, then Jack’s point of view is completely useless because there is no sense of development or even reassertion of these so called problems. The quote mentioned above is a problem of sexism, of girls having to reject their femininity in order to be considered worthy, but Jack never changes this perspective throughout the book consistently commenting on how Alex is different. And simply stating a problem is not going to cut it if you want to start a conversation about this important topic. It’s like my friend telling me her house got robbed and not telling me how she felt about it. Aside from that, I never thought I really got to know Jack (what does he even like??) or for that matter any of the other characters including Peekay and even the main character herself.

Peekay spends the novel dealing with the aftermath of breaking up with her boyfriend. She gets the most development out of all the perspectives. Peekay is sort of a stand in for girl on girl hate. She consistently slut shames her ex’s current girlfriend  Branley (the hot IT girl at school). I liked her story the most as she comes to realize that Branley is just a human being who likes sex. I liked these aspects but they always felt only surface level to me, never reaching the kind of character depth that I was craving.

Alex, our main character, dishes out nuggets of wisdom on misogyny but it always feels out of place like the author put these thoughts here without any proper context. Plot events happen so that these nuggets could be placed. Like aha! this is an example of victim blaming wink wink. In fact, I wish the author just made a list of all the everyday sexism that exists and it wouldn’t have made a difference. As with the other main characters, I never felt I knew Alex. The fact that she gets revenge on her sister’s killer by murdering him (not a spoiler, it happens in the first two pages) doesn’t have any sense of weight let alone repercussion until the very end. That could be excused because Alex is a sort of wish fulfillment character, a character that acts on what some women feel or want to do about the injustices put on them but the whole reason she did this was because of her sister and I never even got to know about her sister. She is a vague presence in the novel and if the author spent even a little bit of time developing her, I would understand Alex’s motivations, her attitudes, and it would have made the story’s themes that much stronger.

Characters aside, the plot was again so much wasted potential. The “shady” characters devolve into stereotypical “back alleyway” stereotypes of rapists portrayed in the media. The book also ends in a “showdown” of sorts which completely reduces Branley to the jealous girlfriend type that is so common in korean dramas and completely degrading to her as a character. This book is suppose to be about sending messages as to how slut shaming and victim blaming and not judging someone by how many sexual partners a girl has and Branley was the target of a lot of those but in the end, her character was given no justice, reduced to another trope when the whole novel hints that she was someone other than what Peekay made her out to be, the deconstruction of the stereotypical “bitch”. The ending takes away from all that progress that the author was trying to tell us. There is no sense of growth, of realization, of irony or deconstruction of the social commentary that the author was trying to point out this entire novel! Instead, what I got was a sort of martyred wish fulfillment ending that feels false and doesn’t solve anything. These problems haven’t been solved yet so it’s fine that the book can’t solve it but it doesn’t raise any thought provoking questions either.

I get the author’s intent and I admire it; she talks about the subtle ways that society treats women compared to men. I also especially love this quote.

Tonight they used words they know, words that don’t bother people anymore. They said bitch. They told another girl they would put their dicks in her mouth. No one protested because this is our language now.

This is such a great concept to explore; it has multiple facets and ideas hidden in it. But it was just sort of thrown in there. Unfortunately, the generic story and generic characters and lack of any sort of development and nuance to both characters and plot just kill (pun not intended) any sense of an insightful look inside any of these issues she sought to criticize

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