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review 2017-02-22 19:20
Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Bitch Planet Volume 1 - Kelly Sue DeConnick,Robert Wilson IV,Valentine De Landro

Bitch Planet is one of those graphic novels everyone seems to recommend. And I can see why! It's about a group of women who are deemed "disobedient" from the male-dominated government and are sent to a distant prison planet called "Bitch Planet" to be "straightened out." There they have to do what they're told if they hope to survive. But the main group of women we follow are definitely not keen on such a notion. Then, obviously, rebellion ensues.

 

I first heard of Bitch Planet through BookTube. When I heard so many people talking about how feminist and inclusive it was, I had to give it a read. And I'm so glad I did! The entire first volume is incredible! The art is gorgeous! It's very colorful when it wants to be and gritty when it has to be. I love the character designs the most! All the women have different body shapes, skin color, and sexual orientations. I love the diversity within these pages and the women portrayed therein.

 

The plot itself is so intriguing. I want to know what our characters are going to do now that they are within this prison. We got to see some background stories for a couple of characters. I love Penny's background story the most. It's tragic, yes, but it helps the reader understand who she is as a person. It helps the reader understand some of the actions she chooses to make. I love her so much. I love ALL the characters so much! Well... except the ones we're supposed to hate... I don't like them as much.

 

And that's all I'm going to say about it! Read this graphic novel! It's fun, engaging, intersectional feminism, daring, and intriguing! However, this is for a very mature audience. There's violence, nudity, sexual content, and gore. But if you're okay with that sort of content, then I highly recommend you pick up this graphic novel. It's filled with a diverse cast of women trying to make it in a world that refuses to allow women to be themselves. It's a fantastic read.

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review 2017-02-16 19:56
Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings
Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen - Jazz Jennings

I don't often read nonfiction. Not because I don't like reading it. It's just something I don't naturally gravitate towards. I tend to reach for more fantastical worlds as a way to relax from the ever polluting realities of our own world. However, this year I want to do something a little bit different. This year I want to read more nonfiction. I want to educate myself about different cultures and experiences. I've always been a very diverse reader, but I want to do that with my nonfiction reading as well. So when my partner and I saw Jazz Jennings memoir at the library, we both decided we HAD to read it.

 

I really enjoyed reading Jazz Jennings's memoir. She writes in a very conversational tone. Almost as if she is in the room with you, just chatting about her day. It was a very relaxing way of conveying her story and message. I enjoyed reading about all the advocacy work she does and I especially loved learning about how loving and supportive her family was. I am fully aware that for some transgender teens and adults, that's not always the case, but I am so happy that Jazz Jennings has a family that loves, supports, and protects her so she can be herself. To be happy. I thought that was beautiful.

 

That's not to say that her life wasn't without struggle. Being transgender, she encountered difficulties when it came to using the girls' restroom in school or being prohibited from being on any female teams when playing sports. Her family fought long and hard so that Jazz could be treated fairly and equally just like other girls. And in the end, it paid off! What makes this an amazing accomplishment is that they paved the way for other transgender kids to have these same rights without having to go to court and fight for them. (Although, I know that no matter what, there will always be struggles for anyone who is transgender or who is considered "different" in our society. But this is why I believe educating yourself and having an open mind could help us better understand one another, so that there's less hatred and violence. Please treat each other kindly.)

 

All in all, I really liked this book. I think if you know a teen who is transitioning or is thinking about transitioning, this is a great book to introduce them to the idea. Or if you know any adults who has a child or teen that is transitioning, they should read this book so that way they can learn to be understanding of their child and their needs. To support their child in any way they can. Parents, more than anybody else, need to try and understand that their child is their child. No matter what. And parents should love their child unconditionally. Whether their child is male, female, trans, intersex, non-binary, etc., remember to always love your child. The world is cruel enough as it is. Do not add to the hatred by discriminating against your own child. 

 

So I do recommend this book for people to learn from. The only downside to this book is that Jazz Jennings writes from a very privileged perspective and she knows that. She points out throughout the book multiple times that she is fully aware she's lucky to have been blessed with understanding parents and the financial needs to transition. So, a lot of the treatments and experiences she talks about in her book are not something everyone will be able to afford or experience themselves. Nevertheless, I still think there are things in this book everyone can benefit from by reading it. Please give this book a read if you come by it. A little bit of education goes a long way.

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review 2017-02-02 21:02
The Mirror Empire (Worldbreaker Saga, #1) by Kameron Hurley
The Mirror Empire: Worldbreaker Saga 1 - Kameron Hurley

Where do I even start with this book? I first heard of this book on BookTube. I became intrigued by it because of the gender aspects so when I went to the library, I thought I'd give it a go. Well, the gender aspects are about all I enjoyed from this book.

 

That's not true. I also enjoyed the writing. The writing is actually quite beautiful. It's very easy to envision the world, its inhabitants, the magic system, everything. I quite like what Hurley does with language and how she uses it to fit this unique world.

 

Another thing I liked about this book was how gender was portrayed, You have gender-fluid characters and non-binary characters and characters who were pansexual and all of that was fantastic! I also liked the talk of using the correct pronouns for whatever the person identifies themselves as and to no do so was seen as extremely offensive because, guess what, it IS offensive to do that to anyone. I adore that Hurley made that very clear within her writing. 

 

Continuing with the gender themes, Hurley also reversed the roles between men and women within this society. It is a matriarchal society where the women are seen as superior to men. Now, I personally don't like matriarchies or patriarchies. I think all should be seen as equals regardless of gender. However, I realize Hurley did this as a commentary to our own society where women are seen as weak. I understand the commentary and I do appreciate what she has done here in her book.

 

However, I don't like seeing rape. At all. And the women do, in fact, rape the men. One character in particular, Zezili, is raping her husband constantly. She beats him, carves her initials into his skin to show ownership, and her husband, Anavha, is of the mentality that she does this because she loves him... something abuse victims tend to say of their abusers. And I get it. This happens a lot in our society. So I understand what and why Hurley decided to include this in her novel, but I'm not okay with any type of abuse. So reading that left me very angry, which is the point, I suppose.

 

Oh, but there's still more about this book that left me feeling rather empty. Let's talk about Lilia. She's one of the main characters in this book and she annoyed the hell out of me. She does stupid things for no reason. Basically, her reasoning is along the lines of "because I can." She is selfish and cruel to the point of callous. But the thing is there's no reason for it! She is not supposed to be a horrible character. She just is. And I can't say much more but because of her stupidity, she gets so many innocent characters, who are trying to help her out, killed. She gets them killed because of her selfishness. And what makes it worse, she shows no remorse! As long as she gets her way, she doesn't care who she screws over in the end. But we, as the reader, are supposed to sympathize with her? We're supposed to believe she's a good person? No. I don't think so.

 

The motivations of some of the characters make no sense to me. Going back to Zezili, she is someone that's ruthless. She kills anyone her Empress tells her to. But then she decides she wants to be a hero and save others... what? Where did that come from? Why are you being kind now? I don't get it. I felt like the development for a lot of the characters were not fleshed out enough, which is sad to say since this book is over 500 pages. 

 

But one of my biggest problems this book has is not telling the reader anything. Like, I get it. As an author, you don't want the reader to know everything. But you also need to give the reader enough to go on so that the reader in intrigued enough to keep reading. After 250 pages, I saw so many forced moments the author put their for the "shock value" that I was disappointed. She inserted what she wanted so much without giving reason to it. Most of those moments left me feeling "Why? What was the point to that?" And that's what most of this book is. What was the point? And it's never fully explained. At all.

 

I could go on but I'll stop here. This book had so much potential. Hurley had a lot of great ideas but, ultimately, could not pull off in a cohesive manner. All of it felt too messy and all over the place. I love what she did with gender and sexuality and the world is such a cool concept! But everything else just fell flat for me.

 

If this book intrigues you, go ahead and give it a shot. You might like it more than I did. Just remember there's a lot of gratuitous violence, gore, and rape. Don't read it is any of those themes are harmful towards you. But if you're okay with those themes, then try it out. Hopefully, you like it even if I had a few problems with it.

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review 2016-12-26 20:04
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
Another Brooklyn: A Novel - Jacqueline Woodson

I love Jacqueline Woodson's books. I've read quite a few of them now and I absolutely love them. Another Brooklyn is no exception. What pulled me in to this book the most was it's setting and writing.

 

I grew up near Brooklyn and I always love reading books that take place in New York because it brings me back to a time where I went to these places often. The way Woodson described the tall, red brick buildings brought back so many memories... and that's the main theme of this book: Memories. What we go through in life and how we react, how we remember those events and the impact it makes. Just... so many experiences that make us who we are. I love this book.

 

The writing was especially gorgeous! It's lyrical, almost as if you're reading spoken word poetry. I was transported to Brooklyn, my home. I could envision the streets, the people, the bodegas, everything. How I miss home.

 

The characters were interesting. Each living their own lives and storing their own memories. I loved reading about what they went through and felt for them whenever they had to deal with hardships because of discrimination. How people never wanted to give them a chance at life because these girls were black. It's a heartbreaking tale that racism once again plays a hand in. But the message where we must keep going even if everything seems hopeless, is what makes this book beautiful to me.

 

It's not a happy read. But it's an important one. It's a book I think everyone should read if only to understand what it means to live and to hope and to strive... even if memories remind us of how cruel the world can be.

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review 2016-12-21 15:26
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
None of the Above - Andrea Di Gregorio

One of the more informative books I've read all year. This book follows a character who is intersex and tells of her story and experiences once she is diagnosed as such. I really enjoyed getting to learn more about Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) since it's a topic that is rarely ever talked about, I can tell the author did a massive amount of research to get the correct information about what it is like to have AIS. 

 

The writing is nothing out of the ordinary. It's quite "matter-of-fact" which I think is a good thing. She is trying to spread awareness about AIS, educating those who may not know what it is to become more well-informed, to bring an end to the stigma those what have AIS have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. So it's good that Gregorio's writing is to the point.

 

Now that characters are, in my opinion, on the weaker side. None of them are extremely memorable except for the main character, Kristin. Not that any of the side characters are bad... they just didn't leave a lasting impression on me. But that didn't deter me from reading. We, as the reader, are here to learn about Kristin and what she feels after finding out about her AIS. And as a main character, she was fascinating to read about. I, myself, don't know much about intersex people. I wanted to learn more. I still want to learn more because I know there are many different types of being intersex and I want to increase my knowledge so that I, too, can spread awareness and end the stigma. And from reading None of the Above I felt I did learn more. And I am grateful to this book for educating not only me but anyone else who reads this book. So the characters might not be the strongest aspect of this book, but the information and the awareness it brings is.

 

To sum up, read this book! It's incredible in what it sets out to do and I think it does it well. Be warn though, there is discrimination towards the main character that happens and an attempted sexual assault. So if that might be triggering, then you might want to hold off on this book until you're ready to read it. Oh, and one more thing about this book that I did not like. Kristin and one of her friends, Darren, make a rape joke at one point in the book that I found distasteful. I didn't think that was necessary and I wanted to point out the "joke" in case anyone might find that triggering as well. 

 

But other than that, the book is important in trying to end hatred towards intersex people. And I do think it's an important read for anyone willing to educate, learn, and grow as a person. Give it a read.

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