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Search tags: female-pov
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review 2018-04-20 15:07
The Good Women of China / Xinran
The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices - Xinran

When Deng Xiaoping’s efforts to “open up” China took root in the late 1980s, Xinran recognized an invaluable opportunity. As an employee for the state radio system, she had long wanted to help improve the lives of Chinese women. But when she was given clearance to host a radio call-in show, she barely anticipated the enthusiasm it would quickly generate. Operating within the constraints imposed by government censors, “Words on the Night Breeze” sparked a tremendous outpouring, and the hours of tape on her answering machines were soon filled every night. Whether angry or muted, posing questions or simply relating experiences, these anonymous women bore witness to decades of civil strife, and of halting attempts at self-understanding in a painfully restrictive society. In this collection, by turns heartrending and inspiring, Xinran brings us the stories that affected her most, and offers a graphically detailed, altogether unprecedented work of oral history.

 

This is a heartbreaking book which I would never have picked up except I was looking for an X author for my Women Authors A-Z reading challenge this year. I never know how to rate books like these because it’s important to know about the situations in countries other than our own, but I always feel helpless and angry when I know that women are having such frightful difficulties.

I have to bear in mind that this book was published in 2002 originally, the author having moving from China to England in order to be free to do such a thing. A lot can and probably has changed in 16 years, plus many of the stories related in this book are from earlier years yet.

The Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) seems to have disrupted relations between men and women and the nature of family relationships to an extreme. Survival was top of mind for everyone and each did what they had to. Xinran reveals the painful stories told to her by Chinese women—of having children horribly injured, daughters gang raped, husbands treating them like servants (or livestock), work denied, promotions skipped over, you name it.

As China seems to be heading into another iteration of their authoritarian regime, there will undoubtedly be more issues for women. I hope there is still someone like Xinran to listen to women’s voices and to articulate what they are able to (Xinran herself had to walk a fine line so as not to offend the Communist Party).

In the era of the Me Too and Time’s Up campaigns here in North America, we have to hope that our sisters on other continents are able to achieve some gains as well.

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review 2018-04-20 01:12
CAST TWO SHADOWS: THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION IN THE SOUTH by Ann Rinaldi
Cast Two Shadows: The American Revolution in the South - Ann Rinaldi

Cast Two Shadows: The American Revolution in the South

Ann Rinaldi

Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 1st 2004 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published October 1st 1998)
ISBN: 0152050779 (ISBN13: 9780152050771) 

 

I was browsing the shelves when I found this book. Usually, an author sticks with the big events of the American Revolution, but Rinaldi sets this book in the south.  Caroline, the main character, is 14 years old and sees how the war has separated her family's loyalty, as well as how it has affected her friends. The British have taken over her family's plantation; her father is thrown in jail for supporting the patriots; the brother is fighting for the British. She sees some horrors on both sides and learns some secrets about herself as well. At some points, the reading is a little dry. Overall, a good book, though, YA readers who like historical fiction.

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review 2018-04-19 11:29
Dead Calm (Mattie Winston, #9)
Dead Calm - Annelise Ryan

With the exception of one book, this has always been a strong series; it started off a bit slapstick, as the MC, Mattie, had one Stephanie Plum-like disaster after another, but this was quickly tamped down and the humor became much more subtle.

 

I started off impatient with Dead Calm because there was an obscene amount of info dumping going on at the start, far more than usual.  I was just about getting fed up when I remembered that the last book left off in the midst of a larger murder mystery (not a cliff hanger though) and this was the author's way of picking that story up and continuing with it, while also introducing new murders to be solved in parallel.

 

Once I got past all that, it was great; the murder mystery confined to this book was excellent and boy, I did not see that end coming.  The larger story arc was wrapped up beautifully too; nobody trying to be heroes and unrealistically saving the day, but justice prevails nonetheless; I like that Mattie and Hurley recognised that the case was bigger than their capabilities, and I thought their solution clever and realistic.  A smaller sub-plot, concerning an alien skeleton found on property Mattie and Hurley are trying to build on, started off silly but the solution was heartbreaking and touching.

 

This is just a good book (aside from the info dumping; it was necessary, but annoying).  I enjoy reading a mystery that involves true investigation, collecting the evidence and putting things together to build toward a solution. I hope Ryan can keep it going.

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review 2018-04-18 15:52
Just One Damned Thing After Another / Jodi Taylor
Just One Damned Thing After Another - Jodi Taylor

Behind the seemingly innocuous façade of St Mary's, a different kind of historical research is taking place. They don't do 'time-travel' - they 'investigate major historical events in contemporary time'. Maintaining the appearance of harmless eccentrics is not always within their power - especially given their propensity for causing loud explosions when things get too quiet.

Meet the disaster-magnets of St Mary's Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around History. Their aim is to observe and document - to try and find the answers to many of History's unanswered questions...and not to die in the process. But one wrong move and History will fight back - to the death. And, as they soon discover - it's not just History they're fighting.

Follow the catastrophe curve from 11th-century London to World War I, and from the Cretaceous Period to the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria. For wherever Historians go, chaos is sure to follow in their wake....

 

This is the most enjoyable time-travel romp that I’ve ever read! I had great fun following the boisterous and sometimes explosive adventures of Madeleine Maxwell, as she joins the St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research. The book ends up being something that is hard to categorize, although I’m pretty sure that stores will stick it firmly on the Fantasy shelf. But there is mystery, intrigue, romance—you name the genre.

I am always delighted with fiction that includes dinosaurs, so the time travel to the Cretaceous was absolutely perfect for my tastes. As Miss Maxwell says, “You put dinosaurs and people together, you always get screaming.” Apparently she has seen at least one of the Jurassic Park movies!

I chose this as my time travel selection for my 2018 PopSugar challenge, but I will definitely be continuing on with the series. I love the patchwork of genres, the British sense of humour, and the adventure.

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review 2018-04-18 09:02
The Secrets of the Bastide Blanche (Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery, #7)
The Secrets of the Bastide Blanche - M.L. Longworth

A departure from the format of the first 6 mysteries, I had doubts at first (as always), but it's possibly one of the best in the series.

 

Longworth tells this story from two angles, a few months apart.  One is set over a dinner in NYC, between an editor and a world famous, Nobel-level author, ostensibly discussing the possibility of the great man's newest book, a memoir.  But over dinner, at the editor's prompting, he tells the story of events that took place 3 months previously, in France.  The second angle is set 3 months back in time, focussing on Verlaque, Bonnet and Paulik as they find themselves in the middle of events as they unfolded.

 

The events surrounding the author's purchase of the Bastide Blanche are the culmination of several past events and include haunting, gaslighting, kidnapping, and a missing woman.  Verlaque and Bonnet each delve into different parts of the house's  - and the author's - histories to try to untangle the mess of events.

 

Longworth created a story to get lost in; one of those where I should probably have liked some of the characters a lot less than I did.  It was well plotted, bringing an end that even though it was foreshadowed early on, was both unexpected and tragic for almost everyone.  My only complaint was a sketchy resolution concerning the house's history; the reader gets enough to fill in the broad strokes, but I'd have liked to have known how much of the legend was real: was anyone buried in the basement?  (not a spoiler, btw)  But I did particularly like the ending, the editor's advice to the author; yes, there was a mercenary aspect to it, but truth, redemption and justice won too.

 

An excellent cozy series that isn't anything like cute and fluffy, but rather intelligent and well-written, and one that seems to be getting better as it goes.  

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