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review 2018-01-16 22:44
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere 1) - Meg Elison

This book hit just the right note with me at just the right time. It was one of those rare books that made me want to drop everything I was doing just so I could read - in fact, I finished this book in my car after work because I couldn't wait until I got home to read the last ten pages. So yeah, it was that kind of a read for me. That said I can see this book not being to everyone's liking. It has the same sort of grim and violent outlook you find in something like the Walking Dead, which will put a lot of people off. This is not a feel good story. There is a lot of graphic sexual violence depicted, so know that going in.

 

At its core I read this as a book about gender roles and sexuality. With the world's population drastically reduced, women a rarity, and pregnancy a dangerous and fruitless prospect, how does that effect the way we behave? How does this free people, sometimes in very dark ways, and how does it bind them? With a cultural breakdown, and women so vastly outnumbered, humans become sexually "liberated" in the way other mammals are liberated - with no social constructs this changes the dynamic. Some men use this as an excuse to rape and hold women as property. Some women use this as a way to collect harems, trading sex for protection. Some people feel free to choose their partners as they see fit without the societal judgement they might have previously experienced. Some people hide their gender in order to walk through the world unhindered. It's an interesting meditation on how the human animal might adjust gender roles, sexuality, and morality if society, balance, and pregnancy are removed from the equation.

 

In addition to having some interesting themes to chew on I quite liked the character and world building. All the characters felt distinct from one another, and their voices felt unique. The representation of bisexuality was some of the best I've ever read, and I really appreciated that as well. The world felt both real and terrifying, the feeling of constant threat looming in every encounter. This book scared me in the same way as White Horse by Alex Adams, or Children of Men. At the same time it had some hope and beauty sprinkled in (sparingly), to offset the horror of the world. For me it was meditative, haunting, frightening, and a little empowering.

 

If you're looking for a great read about the end of the world with a feminist bent this is a rare jewel. If grim futures, violence, or sexual trauma put you off of a read don't pick this one up. For me the food for thought far outweighed any of the ugliness.

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photo 2018-01-15 02:17

A Good Book (1882) by Ludovico Marchetti [x]

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photo 2018-01-14 22:18
Cookies from the first batch

Takeaways from the first and second baking sheets worth of cookies:

 

- "Cut rectangle into 1/8-inch slices." I want to ask whoever wrote this recipe to make it and then show me how they accomplished this, because when I tried to cut the dough it crumbled into irregular chunks and powder. I opted to treat them like those shortbread cookies I made years ago: I gathered the chunks and powder up and pressed them into a simple cookie cutter with a spoon. (ETA: And it turns out that this entire issue was probably because I misread the first step, multiple times, and added the flour too soon. Ugh.)

 

- The first batch (the pictured cookies) went into for 5 minutes because my oven normally burns stuff if I use even the minimum amount of time on a recipe. The second batch went in for 7 minutes and was only slightly darker and not much sturdier. I'm going to try 8 minutes with the next batch.

 

- The recipe really means it when it says you need to wait 1-2 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. They're not solid at all when they come out of the oven. They're not even all that sturdy after 2 minutes. I transferred them very carefully.

 

- I've used half the dough so far and got 22 cookies. I used a round cookie cutter, maybe 1.5 inches in diameter. Some cookies came out of the oven as perfect circles and some just went blorp.

 

- They're tasty. Like chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate - not surprising considering the ingredients.

 

I've made refrigerator cookies before using a recipe from an ancient Betty Crocker cookbook. They were relatively easy (in the opinion of someone who hates baking cookies) and cut beautifully. These were not at all like those cookies. I managed to make them work, but I don't think I'll be making them again in the future. They may be tasty, but not enough to make up for their annoying dough.

 

ETA: And Lora just helped me see where I messed this one up - I added the flour too soon. ::sigh::

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text 2018-01-14 19:10
Attempting to bake cookies...

I used to bake something every week or two. For some reason (I think because I was sick for a few months?), I stopped doing that. For the past few years, the only times I've baked anything were when I needed something for a potluck at work. I don't cook much, either.

 

I'm trying to get back into making stuff in the kitchen again. Last weekend, it was potato soup (I put it in containers and froze it before taking pics - sorry!). This weekend I'm trying cookies. I went with this recipe, which I've never used before. The resulting dough was seriously powdery, to the point that I double and triple checked the recipe to make sure I hadn't don't anything wrong. The last time I dealt with dough this powdery, I was making shortbread cookies. I pressed everything together as best I could and it's sitting in the fridge right now. If they actually result in cookies, no matter how bizarrely shaped, I'll take pictures and show them off.

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text 2018-01-14 15:14
AVR Weekly News ~ 228th Edition

AVR Weekly News ~ 228th Edition

 

Source: imavoraciousreader.blogspot.com/2018/01/avr-weekly-news-228th-edition.html
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