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review 2018-11-29 06:53
Damsel by Elena K Arnold
Damsel - Elana K. Arnold

My friend Emily May called this an ‘’ugly, awful little book” and she’s absolutely right, it is ugly, it is awful, and it is absolutely awesome.


I found Damsel to be highly readable once I figured out it was quirky and whimsical (it took me about two pages). I also found it to be serious and melancholy, a great discussion on consent, women’s rights, misogyny and dismantling the patriarchy.


I also don’t know why this is being marketed as a YA. It’s technically suitable for young adults, as in, people over the age of eighteen but under the age of 30, but in the book world, YA is the term used in marketing toward teens and sometimes even tweens, and it’s really not ‘suitable’ for younger readers because of the glib and blunt use of sexualisation, sexuality, innuendo, and sexual assault. I know sexual assault and sexual activity does appear in loads of YA, but there’s something about the way this is written – it’s blunt, it’s not romantic, and it’s on-page. So I’d be cautious about younger readers, in my opinion anyone under 15 reading this. But since everyone is different I’m not going to say it’s not for teens full stop. I mean, I studied Atonement in school and that had C*UNT in it (without the apostrophe), and sexual assault and on-page sex, so who knows? Maybe a sniggering class of teenagers could handle this story of Emory, his damsel, and all the weird euphemisms for penis.



So the basic plot is this: to be crowned king, Prince Emory must defeat a dragon and bring home the damsel as his bride, who will then provide him with a single male heir who will repeat the same quest ad nauseam. This is the way it is and the way it has been for as long as anyone can remember. Emory’s own mother was a damsel. Emory names his damsel Ama, and this is her story.


From the way it’s written, its brutal yet effective storytelling, I think that people are either going to love this or hate this and not have many in-between. To top off all the sex stuff, there’s also animal abuse, gaslighting, suicide and a really creepy friend of the king who thinks he can do anything he pleases. It’d be a great novel to dissect and look at all of the symbolism and imagery woven into the novel, and finding parallels with modern-day issues like the #MeToo movement and even mansplaining. It shows what happens to a woman in a man’s world when her future husband is the entitled king of that world. Not only does he gaslight and infantilise her (Twilight lovers should love this), he sexually assaults her and blames her for his actions (Hush, Hush lovers should love that), and constantly threatens her animal companion, a lynx kitten she saved from her own future husband’s murdering hands, to control her.



I think this may be one of the darkest books I’ve read, just in terms of the horrible threatening feeling and feeling of hopelessness staining each and every page of this book. It depicts an abusive relationship: Ama can’t escape her fate, because where would she go when Emory, the most powerful man in the world, believes her to be his own property? She has no family and no memory and is incapable of looking after herself. Even as she questions the world around her, she learns quickly that Emory wants her a very specific way and she is forced to shrink into that shape just to please him and be spared his wrath. Then of course, he is mollified, and almost seems to be a decent person again, until something triggers him and Ama is once again in danger. The cycle of abuse continues.


I know when I’m loving a book because I want to read it at every chance I get, and as such, I only took a couple of days to get through this. It’s well-written and a quick page-turner so long as you find it engaging and not off-putting (which some people will), and although I (in my slightly conservative way) think it’s not exactly appropriate reading material for young teenagers, I do really recommend this as an enjoyable, challenging read. Also, the ending made everything worth it.


Note: The publisher website says this is for ages 14+.


I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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review 2018-10-15 00:51
Figured the big reveal from almost the beginning.
Damsel - Elana K. Arnold

The book was just okay, not the best book ever but I have read a lot worst, that's for sure. I figured out the big reveal if you can consider it, a big reveal. I really liked Ama a lot, but Emory and all the other guys in the book were all major assholes. They treated women like there only around to serve them in the bedroom. And Emory was very cruel, I just couldn't stand him at all. I liked the ending for one reason but don't want to mention why because of spoilers. I did like that the author didn't try to make Emory change, because it definitely wouldn't have even gotten one star, let what I gave it which like I mentioned was 3 stars.


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review 2017-03-20 11:35
A Boy Called Bat
A Boy Called Bat - Elana K. Arnold,Charles Santoso

Bixby Alexander Tam is a young boy who likes to go by the nickname Bat.  Bat loves animals and knows all kinds of facts about animals.  Bat's mom is a veterinarian and Bat would like to be a veterinarian just like her some day.  However, Bat is still in grade school and must focus on that.  It is hard for Bat to make friends since he doesn't like to look people in the eye and likes to flap his arms. One day, Bat's mom brings home an orphaned baby skunk that she plans on taking care of before giving it to a rescue.  Bat is amazed by the baby skunk and helps him mom with it's care.  Bat doesn't want to give up the skunk so soon and tries to find a way to convince his mom to keep his new friend; and as Bat learns to love a skunk, he may learn to open up to new human friends as well. 

A Boy Called Bat is a fun, engaging and heartwarming middle grade read.  Most of all, this book encourages diversity and empathy without the story line being directly about the fact the Bat is on the autism spectrum.  In fact, that is not even mentioned within the book, what is mentioned is how Bat perceives the world, how he handles emotions,  interacts with other people and his intense love for animals. This is all done in a way that is easy for kids to understand and makes Bat very easy to relate to.  I loved that Bat was coupled with a skunk, an animal that most people do not like very much; together, as Bat learns to take care of the infant skunk and convince his mother to keep the skunk for longer, Bat learns skills in how to relate with people.  All of the characters in the book were equally as well thought out, though we see most of the people as Bat sees them, everyone surrounding Bat cares for him and wants the best for him.  Overall, a great middle grade read, especially for animal lovers.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

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review 2016-04-11 16:01
Far From Fair
Far from Fair - Elana K. Arnold

By the end of the novel, I was tired of Odette’s moaning, seriously it was exhausting. As a substitute teacher, I am around sixth graders almost every week and rarely do I see a person of her nature. I understand her frustration as her whole world was turned upside down but Odette needed to get over it, as nothing she said or did would change her parent’s decision. Her father chose to one of the individuals laid off from work, it was a choice that the family would have to adjust to. This loss of income would affect the entire family and their livelihood, having a positive and/or negative impact depending on how you look at it. Her parents had decided to move their entire household and establish themselves inside an RV. Odette’s life was shattered.   Some items were put into storage, some items fit into their new home on wheels and other items were set out on the front lawn so others could take a piece of the Zyskowski’s lives home with them for a small price. The sale was devastating for her and just another part of the pain for Odette.   Odette never lets go of her negativity, she found it almost everything around her as the family left their house behind and began a new chapter of their lives. Just when you see hope, bang, despair and hopelessness fill the air. She saw the change that occurred in her parents, the way they looked and behaved around each other and that should have meant something positive to her but it wasn’t. I found humor in the novel, places where Odette should have laughed, places where Odette should have sat back and enjoyed the moment but instead her mind was thinking about what she had lost. It was sad that she just couldn’t let go.  Grandma tries to shine light on Odette’s darkness and for Grandma; I thank you for tipping the scale. Thank you to dad, for trying to make a difference in Odette’s life. I appreciate your effort in bringing the thrift store dog to Odette, even though he wasn’t originally the perfect dog, he ended up being worth millions.  

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review 2015-06-10 23:58
Infandous (Fiction - Young Adult) - Elana K. Arnold

Sephora feels that she has always lived in the shadows of her mother’s beauty. Everyone stares at her mother as she electrifies the room, a real showstopper wherever they go, gracing everyone with her appearance and Sephora considers herself a piece of her. She feels her mother is just too beautiful for the life that she leads.   Sephora has her art and she tries to express herself through it, never attaching her name to the pieces she displays around Venice Beach, in the various shops. When Jordan invites her mother to a reggae concert, Sephora waits for her mother to deny his request after all their age difference is just too great but she gladly accepts the invitation. This relationship blossoms and although Sephora knows her mother has desires like everyone else; she has a hard time accepting this relationship. Sephora feels alone while her mother is infatuated with her new relationship and while her life continues to revolve, there is something in her past that needs to be addressed.

The authors way of just skimming on the surface and the length of this novel, made it difficult for me to indulge into the story. The author tucked inside this novel fairytales before the chapters which I enjoyed very much and looked forward to reading.

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