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review 2018-10-30 02:34
So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo
So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo

Really I don't have any interest in talking about race. What I want is to be a better human in a way that is helpful to other human beings. Oluo is someone I follow on Twitter. Her writing is wonderfully clear and straightforward and also surprisingly kind.  But so practical! Mostly I try to avoid ever talking to anyone about anything, but this book lays out for me concrete times and places and ways to use my privilege to benefit others. Surprisingly kind because withstanding a lifetime of abuse by society should enrage everyone. Our culture is cruel and dehumanizing and grossly unfair, and some days it is all I can do not to run screaming. This is what we have made and it is awful and cruel and murderous. It is prejudiced and short sighted and stupid and it is only the astounding grace and kindness of individuals in the worst moments that make it worthwhile.

I want to make life easier and better and more just for everyone and I thank Oluo for taking the time to share her wisdom and determination and to encourage me forward in the light. Right now feels very dark, so I am grateful to all those who can show me a way forward and give me hope not just that we can do better, but that we will rise up and choose to do better. Sometimes just looking after those closest to me is all I can manage and not even do that well. But more often I can listen, and learn, and witness, and maybe, just a little more, I can speak. And remember, every day that humankind is my business.

 

Library copy

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review 2018-09-24 10:01
She Wants It
She Wants It - Jill Soloway

[I received a copy of this book through the First To Read program, in exchange for an honest review.]

I had only watched the first season of “Transparent” before, but I guess I knew enough then to recognise the author’s name, and be interested in the book’s premise. As a word of warning, though, if you’re in the same case… uh, the book contains spoilers as to the next seasons. I wasn’t too happy about that, especially since I had been able to avoid them so far. Or maybe it was just unavoidable for starters?

It’s also different from what I had expected, that is to say, more of a memoir, and not exactly “essays” or more structured writing about feminism, being non-binary, questioning, and so on. As such, while it remained interesting, spoilers notwithstanding, it felt kind of disjointed in places, and at the end, I felt like it hadn’t gone in depth into anything.

The last part about Me Too and people coming out about Tambor was also… well, it played straight into the unfortunately usual “she came out about this and now the actor/the show is going to be ruined, we should’ve talked about this among ourselves only and seen where to go from there”. Soloway does acknowledge that it’s wrong, but it still felt like there was much more to say here, and it was brushed over. It’s not on the same level as powerful men paying women they have abused so that they keep silent, but the feeling remains somewhat similar nonetheless, like an afterthought, like something that was mentioned at the end only so that people wouldn’t dwell on it too much. I didn’t like that.

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review 2018-09-13 00:01
Sleeping Beauties: A Novel - Stephen King, Owen King for Modern Masters of Horror
Sleeping Beauties: A Novel - Stephen King,Owen King

  I enjoyed this enormously. There were some surprises and some poor reading on my part (my earlier race comment was wrongish, because of my failure to notice and/or remember the race of characters, but also kind of accurate given later developments - it's complicated). Anyway, nice work with archetypes and fairy tales and a premise that is clearly fantasy, but also very grounded and concrete. There's a large cast and lots of plot. But also really nuanced and generous, kind even. Stephen has always showed an understanding of and sympathy with abused women, so a whole lot of compassion towards the inmates of a women's prison is no surprise. But there is also a lot of anger, some of it directed at people behaving badly and some of it directed at society for creating and exacerbating iniquity. Dickensian.

 

Good on these two for writing a book that is absolutely entertaining, but more than just entertaining.

 

Good for many squares, and recommended to those who don't care for horror in general.

 

 

Library copy

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review 2018-09-07 04:20
Tess of the Road - Rachel Hartman 
Tess of the Road - Rachel Hartman

Woah. I will try and write something more reviewish after time  to reflect. For the time being there is nothing about this book that isn't fabulous.

 

Amusing coincidence: the author photo shows Hartman in an orange blazer. The author photo for Naomi Novak, who has also written a bestselling series about dragons, shows her in an orange blazer. Orange is my least favorite color, but clearly it works for some people.

 

Library copy 

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review 2018-09-02 14:10
The Last Hours - Minette Walters 
The Last Hours - Minette Walters

The first outbreaks of the Black Death in Dorset. There is crime and secrets and lies, but this is counterbalanced by great kindness and cooperation and thought. You wouldn't think it could be a hopeful kind of book, but even as the plague strikes so swiftly with such high mortality, it does free up all the wealth and power that was gathered into so few hands.

 

Now I just have to wait for the story to be continued.

 

It's situations like this that make me reluctant to start a series until it's all written

 

Library copy

 

Edited to add, 9/2/18:  I often give authors of fiction about plagues a hard time for giving their imagined diseases an easy transmission, an incredibly high mortality rate, and a very brief latency: these three ratios all being very high means an infection will burn out in a population too quickly to spread. Even the worst plagues in naive populations don't score high on all three. They also tend to avoid people getting ill and recovering, which some portion of the population usually does. Most fiction wrlters avoid the importance of hygiene and sanitation and supportive care: they have everyone dying from the primary disease directly rather than address indirect mortality. I've encountered more than a few books that use 99.99% in order to decrease the surplus population. I mention this because I can only think of two writers who don't cheat that way: Connie Willis and now Minette Walters. If you want realistic plagues, these are the women to read.

 

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