October Choices

The 1 year anniversary is here!! Congratulations us!! Huzzah!! For this milestone, I went back through all 42 choices submitted throughout the year (bolded were chosen & italics had solo reviews):

The Memory Illusion by Dr. Julia Shaw
The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
Peony in Love by Lisa See
Dracula by Bram Stoker
East by Edith Pattou
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
The Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers
The Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips
How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg
The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman
Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville
Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett
Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
How to be a BAWSE – Lilly Singh
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild
Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen & She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton
Hild by Nicola Griffith
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls by Jes Baker
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
The Devourers by Indra Das
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
Option B by Sheryl Sandberg
Frederica by Georgette Heyer
Spider-Gwen by Jason Latour
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil Degrasse Tyson
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Illusive by Emily Llyod-Jones
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

From these I picked 4 for our October choices – I tried choosing books that felt autumn-y to me. Have fun choosing!

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The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

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The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

In the tradition of The Arabian Nights, a beautifully illustrated tapestry of folk tales and myths about the secret legacy of female storytellers in an imagined medieval world.

In the Empire of Migdal Bavel, Cherry is married to Jerome, a wicked man who makes a diabolical wager with his friend Manfred: if Manfred can seduce Cherry in one hundred nights, he can have his castle–and Cherry.

But what Jerome doesn’t know is that Cherry is in love with her maid Hero. The two women hatch a plan: Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, will distract Manfred by regaling him with a mesmerizing tale each night for 100 nights, keeping him at bay. Those tales are beautifully depicted here, touching on themes of love and betrayal and loyalty and madness.

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Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville

A dark, distinctive and addictively compelling novel set in fin-de-siècle Vienna and Nazi Germany—with a dizzying final twist.
Vienna, 1899. Josef Breuer—celebrated psychoanalyst—is about to encounter his strangest case yet. Found by the lunatic asylum, thin, head shaved, she claims to have no name, no feelings—to be, in fact, not even human. Intrigued, Breuer determines to fathom the roots of her disturbance.
Years later, in Germany, we meet Krysta. Krysta’s Papa is busy working in the infirmary with the ‘animal people,’ so little Krysta plays alone, lost in the stories of Hansel and Gretel, the Pied Piper, and more. And when everything changes and the world around her becomes as frightening as any fairy tale, Krysta finds her imagination holds powers beyond what she could have ever guessed. . . .

03

The Devourers by Indra Das

On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger’s behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins.

From these documents spills the chronicle of a race of people at once more than human yet kin to beasts, ruled by instincts and desires blood-deep and ages-old. The tale features a rough wanderer in seventeenth-century Mughal India who finds himself irrevocably drawn to a defiant woman—and destined to be torn asunder by two clashing worlds. With every passing chapter of beauty and brutality, Alok’s interest in the stranger grows and evolves into something darker and more urgent.

Shifting dreamlike between present and past with intoxicating language, visceral action, compelling characters, and stark emotion, The Devourers offers a reading experience quite unlike any other novel.

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September Book Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here

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This book can be summed up in one word for me: meh. It was very… average. Which is a terrible shame. Consider the premise: a world filled with Chosen Ones (aka indie kids), battling soul-eating ghosts, undead and vampires every few years – but the rest of us just live here; these are the normal people who are just trying to live their lives in this crazy world.

The idea behind it is fantastic; the execution is where it falls apart. It doesn’t deliver on the intriguing synopsis, and isn’t even a good slice of life novel. It’s essentially a typical teenage angst book written by an adult, with shallower characters than usual.

Note that I listened to the audio book; it doesn’t affect how I found the writing, but I would like to note that the audio book narrator just doesn’t know how to do voices for female characters. It’s like this weird, extra breathy, fluttery voice for all of them. I listen to a number of podcasts & have to say I haven’t seen this in any of the podcasts I follow, but have experienced in waaaay too many audio books. Why people?!

Back to the book itself. There were a few things I liked, so I’ll talk about them first, and then rip on the rest.

I liked the little bit of poking of fun at the Chosen One genre, like the comments about how the Indie kids don’t use the Internet, the drunken uncle policeman, the ironic love triangle. There were some jokes about falling in love with vampires, and some more pointed jokes about Fault in Our Stars (unnamed of course). I also liked the recurring joke of waiting until they’ve graduated for the high school to blow up, and the super obvious conclusion/ punch-line to said joke.

That said, aside from these little pokes every so often, it didn’t feel very much like the parody it was supposed to be. It could have been so awesome but just fell flat. Just… fizzled out. For the criticisms, I have a lot of similar points as Sugar & YellowBlueEye’s reviews.

The ‘normal’ main characters were extremely 2 dimensional & it felt like each of them was given an “issue” to make them more interesting. Like, Mikey has OCD/anxiety, Mel is a recovering anorexic, Henna is the only black girl in town, & Jared is gay. I don’t understand how Mikey can say “this story isn’t about our issues – that isn’t the story I’m trying to tell”, but it kind of totally is. I mean, what else is it about? They just drive around, hang out, and Mikey burns with weird jealous love for Henna. Sometimes there’s a thing that happens with the Indie kids. What are their hobbies, their interests? Aside from Jared being good at math, I don’t even know their college/ job aspirations. Do they like music, playing instruments, games, reading, movies? Who knows!

On top of that, they only really interact with each other. Other people at their school don’t exist unless brought in as a weak plot device (hi Tony). These 4 are the only ones who matter – they don’t talk to other kids or people (which is a greaaaat way to make it different from the Chosen One genre you’re supposed to be parodying *eye roll*).

Even after making the main characters have only their issues as personality traits, the ball is dropped even on these issues. Mikey is the only one whose issue is explored; the others only kind of exist as props who are able to say “everyone has something” truthfully (though their issues aren’t really shown to affect them).

Jared is gay in a small conservative town; how does that affect his life? Nobody knows! But he does get a boyfriend at the very end so huzzah. Jared is mentioned as being on the football team – he also doesn’t ever mention any of the other players, ever shown going to practices, working out, or even playing in any games. It’s just a cheap veneer with an illusion of depth.

Henna is quote unquote the only black person in town. Racism? Privilege? Exploring the lack of PoC in Chosen One books? Where’s the rest of her family? If they’re abroad, does she ever meet them, skype, penpal, phone calls? None of that – it’s enough to know she’s black, so the author can pat himself on the back for diversity.

Which brings me to another point – the so-called diversity in this book. Some of the other lukewarm reviews of this book I’ve seen have given it a few brownie points here, saying that it wasn’t good, but at least it had diversity.
I challenge that. It felt like the worst kind of excuse for diversity – 2D stickers placed on characters at random to tick off a box. It’s like those shows that are 99% white with 1 black side character.

Like, Tony is Korean. Super. He shows up twice, for like 3-4 sentences. Steve is part Honduran – nice that he mentions it exactly once (ignore that he’s dating Mel, who has a republican politician mother – there are no problems here). Sidenote: how the hell is he a full doctor at the age of 25?! Shouldn’t he be an intern or, at max, a resident?? What…
I digress; this pattern of supposed diversity repeats throughout, including with Jared and Henna as I’ve discussed.

A few last things to wrap up, otherwise I’d keep going on for a looooong time. The romance was terrible, which I kind of expected. Mikey spends the whole book jealously pining after Henna, who makes it clear she’s not interested (super strong ‘nice guy’ & ‘friendzone’ trope vibes); until the end when she *spoiler* sleeps with him, at which point Mikey goes on & on how amazing it was, and then says, “Oh yeah I realize now I don’t like you like that. Let’s just be friends after all”… literally 5 seconds after they finish having sex…

Is this supposed to be character development?? This is a so-called ‘coming-of-age’ story??

Also, there was a lot of forced teenage slang that felt sprinkled in at random points to make it hashtag relatable. So many “I know right?” and “Seriously”s just thrown around.

I found Jared’s character the most interesting, which isn’t saying much. It may have been marginally better from his PoV, but then again, maybe not. I mean, the author could have just tweaked the synopsis, and it would have been an amazing story about Jared. Like a Chosen Kid who is resisting being a main character; he’s like, “I just want to be normaaaal”, and trying his hardest to not get involved in anything.

To sum up, the original idea is great, the book is not. If you still want to read it, go in with extremely low expectations.

July Book Review: Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls

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This review took me a while to put up, as what started as a short review turned into a long personal essay. So, be forewarned 😛

This book was a very interesting read for me. I knew prior to reading it that it was about body positivity, but I was still surprised by some of the content. The various guest essays from other diverse perspectives were amazing; especially the androgynous essay, and the cis-male essay. Additionally, although I roughly knew the basics about body positivity, it’s a difficult thing to incorporate into daily life, at least for me, and reading about it was an amazing reaffirment.

The blog style of writing was a bit strange at first – it was like reading printed out blog posts more than anything. Since the author runs a major blog, this makes sense, and you get used to it after a few chapters. The ‘homework’ pieces weren’t really personally useful, as none of those things were activities that I refrain from doing. They were eye-opening to me however, in showing how restricted truly over-weight people feel. The most useful personal lessons included the bad mental health day, re-training your brain & neuroplasticity, and approach to exercise & healthy foods, which were all excellent, and super valuable. The resource list of blogs, books and other websites was also fantastic, and which I will definitely be checking out.

From a personal perspective, I’m not exactly ‘fat-fat’, but I’m not skinny either. Despite being a relatively constant weight most of my young adult life, I’ve only really stopped thinking about weight loss & being more comfortable in my skin during the last 4 years. Low self body image still sneaks up on me every once in a while, and it doesn’t help that my mother tells me relatively often that I should lose weight, or tells me not to eat that cookie/chocolate, or that I’m not going to be able to fit in my pants soon, etc.

Something that especially resonated with me was the idealization of the hourglass shape. Although I do have a bit of an hourglass shape, I also have a belly pooch, and any weight I gain goes straight to the belly. Into the butt, boobs or thighs for that idealized hour-glass look? Nope, doesn’t go there for me, just an expanding beer belly.

In high school, I remember a friend telling me about a summer camp she had gone to. It was full of physical activity, but it wasn’t a fat camp or anything like that. Despite this, the counselors made all the teenage girls grab their stomach fat, disassociate from it by giving it a separate name, and then all of the physical activity was heavily focused at eliminating it. The worst part, as she told me this story, was that I thought, “What a good idea”, and promptly called my own stomach fat ‘evil John’. I spent much of my high school and cegep years trying to be rid of evil John. Calorie counting & restriction? Yessir. Multiple exercise tapes, classes, machines; not with the aim of getting stronger in mind, but with the single aim of getting rid of evil John. I printed out pictures of fit women as goals, and kept clothes much too small around as motivation for ‘when I lose weight’. I never straight up dieted though, and so didn’t feel I was nearly as obsessed as other girls my age. How sad is that?

Even now, going through my closet & finding an old article of clothing that doesn’t fit, it’s hard for me to get rid of it. My first thought will be, “this is so pretty, I’ll keep it until I lose enough weight to wear it again.” And in my closet it will sit, and I’ll put off buying new clothes that actually fit me, looking longingly instead at my overstuffed closet.

Into university, my mindset changed slightly, but not really. I simply replaced ‘skinny’ in my mind with ‘fit’, and as the book points out, they’re basically the same thing, just evolved to seem better for you. It’s one thing training to BE fit & another training to LOOK fit. You can train a shit ton, still be fat, but also BE fit as hell. For most people, that’s not enough; it’s not actually about being healthy, it’s about the way you look. This is something I have to actively keep in mind and reaffirm when I workout nowadays – I am working out to BE stronger, BE healthier, get endorphins going, & sweat out my stress; NOT to lose weight. If I lose weight, fine – if I don’t, that’s fine too. This principle also applies to food & eating.

Which leads me to one of the themes in the books; Fat as a factual adjective, not an insult. This is incredibly important to acknowledge and think about. I have a fat little belly pooch – and that’s ok. It’s not demeaning myself, it’s not a bad thing, it’s just a fact. And it’s incredibly backwards if I point it out, or say I’ve gained weight, and people respond, “No! You’re not fat, you look great.” It does a disservice by equating fat = looking bad. And going further, the book points out how ‘looking good’ shouldn’t be the focus of the body positive movement either.

All of this to say, many of the chapters struck a major chord. Just look at some of the chapter titles:
“Start now, goddamnit: waiting doesn’t work”
“Fat and health: rethink that shit”
“Change your Tumblr, change your life: diversify your media feed”
“100% of humans have brains: mental health support is for everyone”
“Watch your language: words matter”
“Fatshion” is a form of political resistance: wear what scares you”
Etc.

I feel like anyone who has felt an issue with their size should read this book – however, it’s not for everyone. Some people have no issues with their body image, and to you, I bow down in reverence and jealousy. On the other side of the spectrum, I think that people who are severely deep down the rabbit hole of fat hate will completely miss the point, and spout some BS how “this book is advocating obesity weh”.

To conclude, the concept of evil John is no more, and hasn’t been for a few years. I’ve been building a tentative peace with my body, but there are always setbacks and bad days. For these, I have a new resource list, media feed, and books to read, thanks to this amazing little book.

May-June Book Review: Hild

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Like Sugar, I had a similarly hard time reading Hild, until finally I decided to power through by ignoring the names I didn’t recognize, & political intricacies I didn’t understand. Regardless, it still took me so long to finish this book… my average is about 2 weeks – Hild took over 2 months.

First, the bad. For me, this book was just waaaaay too dense, too long, with too many characters. I couldn’t keep track of who was who, and there was no good index apart from the family tree at the beginning. Also, being such a long book, you forget many characters just because it’s been such a long time since they first appeared. It’s hard to follow the implications of such-and-such marrying his daughter to that-guy, and that-guy’s brother winning the battle at whatsitcalled. As a result, most of the politics went over my head, and the significance of events just didn’t register. All of which to say, I couldn’t really follow what was happening for over 50% of the book.

A final nitpick, using the old languages was cool, but often only added to my confusion of the plot. It could have been used more sparingly, and/or reserved for untranslatable words and concepts only.

Next, the good. It was a historical fiction book, and though I didn’t follow the political aspects, I absolutely loved the historical details from the daily living point of view. Culture and society at that time period was vividly brought to life in my eyes, with a huge range of experiences. These included: working in the dairy, the medical knowledge of women, metal- & jewelry-smithing, the clash of the old & new religions, large trading centers, female friendships, geisths battles, power of reading, dangers of childbearing, peasant foods & feasts, and more that I can’t remember just now. Her descriptions sparkle, and were the highlight for me. I especially loved the bits about nature, wilderness, animals of forest & farm.

“The great pattern” Hild kept seeing snatches of was evocative & haunting; the weft and fold weaving a great pattern underlying everything. It both echoed the mysticism & religiousness of her seer role, but also of her highly observant and, I would say, scientific mind. It made me think of the ideas tied to a famous quote by Gallileo; that “the Book of Nature is written in the language of mathematics”, and as such, nature is built of overlapping patterns.

Also, very cool how the author had historically accurate people of colour peppered throughout the novel, as well as woman/woman love & fluid ideas of sexuality. Many historical fiction, and even historical non-fiction, books tend to ignore or gloss over that these things (and more!) existed in medieval Europe.

Finally, the ugly/weird. SPOILERS BELOW
If you haven’t finished the book, and want to, then quit reading now, because I’m about to spoil the last 15 pages or so. So, I can’t help but be glad that Hild gets a happy ending, because at times it seemed like she would meet a tragic end. However, I can’t get over the fact that she ends up with Cian, who is in fact her half-brother. Maybe incest wasn’t quite as bad in that time period, but… kind of spoiled it for me. He didn’t have to be revealed as her half-brother at all. Since Cian was a completely fictional character, he could have been written as a distant cousin, or unrelated altogether.

My final thought: I found this book was very enjoyable and interesting when NOT focusing on politics. Unfortunately, the political parts overwhelmed and bogged down the narrative. I feel if it had been re-written as more of an ‘everyday life’ kind of novel, with heavily simplified politics (& a full, detailed character index!), it would have made for a much stronger & better read.

July Choices

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Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living Paperback by Jes Baker

This is a manifesto and call to arms for people of all sizes and ages. With her trademark wit, veteran blogger and advocate Jes Baker calls people everywhere to embrace a body-positive worldview, changing perceptions about weight, and making mental health a priority.

Alongside notable guest essayists, Jes shares personal experiences paired with in-depth research in a way that is approachable, digestible, and empowering. Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls is an invitation to reject fat prejudice, fight body-shaming at the hands of the media, and join this life-changing movement with one step: change the world by loving your body.

Among the many Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls that you don’t want to miss:
1. It’s Possible to Love Your Body (Today. Now.)
2. You Can Train Your Brain to Play Nice
3. Your Weight Is Not a Reflection Of Your Worth
4. Changing Your Tumblr Feed Will Change Your Life
5. Salad Will Not Get You to Heaven
6. Cheesecake Will Not Send You to Hell

If you’re a person with a body, this book is for you.

02

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

(titled ‘What Sunny Saw in the Flames’ in Nigeria and the UK)

Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent” with latent magical power. Once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?

03

The Devourers by Indra Das

On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger’s behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins.

From these documents spills the chronicle of a race of people at once more than human yet kin to beasts, ruled by instincts and desires blood-deep and ages-old. The tale features a rough wanderer in seventeenth-century Mughal India who finds himself irrevocably drawn to a defiant woman—and destined to be torn asunder by two clashing worlds. With every passing chapter of beauty and brutality, Alok’s interest in the stranger grows and evolves into something darker and more urgent.

Shifting dreamlike between present and past with intoxicating language, visceral action, compelling characters, and stark emotion, The Devourers offers a reading experience quite unlike any other novel.

04

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

 

April Book Review: The Improbability of Love

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

This book. This is an ‘I can’t even’ book. As in, I can’t even understand how it was nominated for several awards. I can’t fathom the high amount of positive reviews on Amazon. It boggles my mind, because in short, it was terrible.

Firstly, I’m not sure how this book made it past an editor to print. It needs a LOT of work. I would cut out large swathes, and fill it with red revisions and basic corrections.

There are tons of characters who all get featured with their own p.o.v. for absolutely no reason. They are absolutely superfluous. I used absolutely as an adjective twice to stress how bad it was. What was even the point?? Jacking up the page count?? What makes it even worse, is that the characters are all one-dimensional caricatures playing to common sterotypes. The main character Annie, has the most dimensions, yet somehow still manages to be super shallow. As Sugar mentioned, she also falls into the annoying trope of ‘secretly amazing/beautiful but doesn’t know it’. This is paired with her love interest, friend-zoned nice guy who wins the uninterested girl in the end through persistence and heroically saving her from a damsel in distress situation. *eye roll*

There is a right way, and a wrong way to write multiple perspectives/ narrators. This book shows the wrong way. Not only are there too many characters, the transitions often don’t make sense – some chapters even switch between first and third person of a single character!

And the painting. Oh, the painting. It was so annoying. I could rage about it endlessly. There were so many lines that made me stop and check that the author was a woman. For instance, consider the following quotes: “As we all know, a fierce female mind is a passion-killer. Men prefer the breast to the brain.” & later in the book, “[…] his orgasm of desire.” What.

Finally, the mess of an ending. It was an attempt of adding a thriller element (?), but so poorly executed, and then magically resolved with little effort. The happy endings for all were laughably Disney – I have nothing against a happy ending, but SERIOUSLY. This book was so unrealistic from start to finish, I guess I should have expected it.

I did enjoy some parts of this book; Annie’s cooking ability, and food descriptions were very nice. I liked the food/ art parallels and combinations. The actual art history and theory, as well as auction concepts/mechanics were interesting and well-written. There could have been a very good book here. I feel like the underlying elements of art & food were solid, but then got buried under a mountain of bad additions. The multiple plot points and genres, which miiiight have worked well together, just didn’t in this case. Remember, sometimes less is more.

If I could imagine this book as a food, I would see it as a towering cake; a small, tasty piece of cake dough, hidden underneath layers upon layers of clashing icing & cream, fake green cherries and neon sprinkles, oozing and melting together into a mess.

All I wanted was the cake bit, alright?

 

February Book Review: Bad Feminist

Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
Small disclaimer before we begin: I agree with the others’ opinions and my review will likely echo theirs.
It took me a while to get around to this review, but I very much enjoyed this book, although at first I wasn’t sure what to expect: non-fiction can vary widely. I felt the stand alone essays were written in an easy to digest manner, were grouped logically and flowed together quite well. Some essays struck more of a chord with me than others, but all were interesting, even the previously unknown world of competitive scrabble. The chapters that dealt with her experiences as a person  of colour were especially important in my mind, as they are lacking in so much best selling/ mainstream feminist lit. It’s important to listen to voices with different perspectives. Her visit to Haiti, and acknowledgment of her our privileges was great, and made me reflect on my own privileges. Her critique of a different book about advice to women in the workplace called back to mind these early chapters. It’s easy for lots of feminist literature to forget or to gloss over issues of class & wealth; this goes for online articles & pieces as well.
Unexpected bonus round: her reflections of school and being a professor were super personally relevant, moreso now that I’m ‘on the inside’ of the academic world.
I especially loved the articles about problematic media and violence against women. As Sugar put it, Roxanne Gay is able to put to words things hard to say. She eloquently gives shape to thoughts & subconcious understanding of societal problems. I too wanted to highlight and copy down her explanations, save quotes to use as future comebacks. Since I’d borrowed the book from the library I couldn’t, but I loved this book so much I’ll be buying a copy when the new paperback edition comes out in October 2017. While reading it, there were many points where I wished it were mandatory reading for everyone; I think it would make an excellent addition to high school or college reading lists.
Finally, her chapters about body image issues felt like skimming the top of an iceberg; you can sense there is a LOT more there, tied up with other issues. I wished she’d gone more into depth there, as it’s something that I think about a lot as well. I can consider my wish granted however, as I found out recently that the author wrote an entire book on this topic, due to come out June 2017, entitled “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body”. When it does, I’ll be giving it a read too, as this is an author that’s won a new fan.