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review 2019-03-19 21:12
A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
A Woman Is No Man - Etaf Rum

Rum's debut novel, recently released, follows the lives of three generations of Palestinian-American women. Isra, a bride brought over from Palestine at 17 in 1990, her eldest daughter Deya at the same age in 2008, and her mother-in-law Fareeda who bridges them. These women form the end of a chain of lives that seem to reach back forever. As Arabic women in America their lives seem without options, they appear voiceless and bound by tradition.


As the opening of 'A Woman is No Man' promises, you have never read a story like this one.


This story begins with Isra contemplating her life in Palestine and obeying her mother's instructions on how to greet her potential in-laws and suitor from America. The narration is third-person limited omniscient, giving us access to Isra's hopes and fears, but leaving those of her mother and her suitor clouded. Isra demanded my attention from the first, and it was sad to see her wish for her daughter's happiness be followed by a chapter following Deya raised without her mother. There is a mystery here.


Deya and her sisters are being raised by their grandparents, her parents are both dead and the focus of Fareeda is to start getting her granddaughters married. It was shocking to me to read of a modern American home, in Brooklyn, where girls' lives are as circumscribed as theirs are. Deya wants a life of her own after high school, not a husband, and college. Her grandparent's won't hear of it.


It takes some time to get to Fareeda's perspective, but her point of view is key to understanding how lives like Deya's and Isra's are perpetuated in the face of reforms even in the United States.


This is a remarkable book.

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review 2019-03-19 02:34
Wonder Woman, Vol. 4: War - Brian Azzarello,Cliff Chiang

We get so much in this volume. We get to discover what happened to Cassandra’s neck. It is so much worse than you could think. We find out the name of Zola’s son. It’s not Wonder Woman’s choice of Steve. Wonder Woman and Co go toe to toe with the First Born, who proves just how scummy and dangerous he is. We find out more about Orion, who faces his own struggle of conscience.

But honesty, that scene where Diana calls Orion out about his sexist behavior, kisses him, and then grabs him by the balls is just awesome. Seriously awesome.

We get more of Hera here to, and it is quite nice. I really do enjoy how this series has dealt with Hera. She is too be pitied but is also bitchy and horrifying.

It is worth noting too that while Wonder Woman is wearing hot pants and boob armor, she isn’t sexualized in the same intense way that she has been by other artists. She is a warrior here, not a sex object. It is nice.

The highlight of this arc is the closing volume which is a battle between Wonder Woman’s crew and the Firstborn. The army that War brings with him is just stunning and a sharp reminder of what just a god of War is. How Wonder Woman decides to end it and the ramifications of her actions is powerful. Especially in the culminating panels of the fight and the last panels of the issue.

This arc is about family, anger, and loss. The use of power, the cost of doing good, and the need to stand for something is here as well. The book focuses on the questions of, not mortality but morality. In many ways, in exploring Wonder Woman’s godhood (she is a daughter of Zeus), we see Wonder Woman at her most human.

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review 2019-03-19 02:30
Wonder Woman, Vol. 3: Iron - Tony Aikins,Amilcar Pinna,Cliff Chiang,Brian Azzarello,Dan Green

This third volume of the Wonder Woman New 52 series concerns Wonder Woman struggling to adjust to several things.  First there is the fact that she is the last Amazon, then there is what happened to her mother, but she is also adjusting to the fact that she has a whole slew of siblings (they share a father-Zeus), but the newest one of those siblings has been stolen by Hermes.  Diana has promised the child’s mother, Zola that she will find and return him.


                Oh, and Hera is human.


                But has discovered ice cream, so there’s hope there.


                Yet, there is this First Born of the gods running around trying to kill everything.  He hangs with Cassandra.  Or to be more exact, she hangs with him, and what is with her neck?


                One thing I love about this series is the way that the Greek gods are portrayed.  There’s War, who is an old man; Aphrodite whose face we never see; Hephaestus, who has cool arms; the twins Apollo and Diana are quite wonderful.  And Hades.  Hades is awesome.


                Orion and the New Gods also make an appearance.


                In one sense, this story ARC is a quest story, the object being finding Zola’s baby, whose sex Zola doesn’t even know for the child was snatched at birth.  The story is really about relationships.  This collection includes the story of Diana’s training at the hands of her uncle War.  It is a pretty good short story about teacher and student.  The story is important for what occurs later in the ARC.


                One of the relationships that is centered is that of Wonder Woman and Zola.  Zola might be a woman in distress, but she is far from helpless.  Diana might be a kick ass super-hero but you would also want Zola in your corner.  She also stands up to Hera, asking why Hera attacks the children and lovers of Zeus instead of Zeus himself. 


                The most powerful though is the story of Sicora, a child of Zeus whose help Wonder Woman must get if she is to find the child.  Sicora’s story and actions, and Wonder Woman’s response to them is just heart-rending.  The use of the cost of being a child of a god is so starkly shown multiple times in this volume.  It is quite nice to see that aspect of Greek myth being used.

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review 2019-03-08 20:12
The Woman in the Dark by Vanessa Savage
The Woman in the Dark - Vanessa Savage
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

He sees the beautiful Victorian house he grew up in, with its pitched roof and gabled ends---a fairy-tale house before it became the county House of Horrors. He sees happy memories of a childhood lived by the sea. He doesn't imagine blood on the walls or whispering ghosts. He doesn't see the Murder House, but I do. 

Sarah grew up with a mother who suffered from agoraphobia and a father who left, her childhood was less than ideal. When she meets Patrick, as a young nineteen year old, he sweeps her off her feet with his pretty face and pretty stories of a charming childhood. When he introduces her to his newborn baby boy Joe, she is swept up again. Her friend Caroline warns her that she is losing herself to Patrick but Joe needs her and she agrees to a pleading Patrick to get married. An abandoned college degree, birth of a daughter, and deep depression over her mother's death, has Sarah slowly seeing underneath all the pretty facades. 

With my mother's money, I could make my husband's dream come true. But in doing that, I'd be destroying every dream of my own. 

Woman in the Dark, has a strong Amityville Horror vibe with elements of The Girl on the Train. The story is mostly told all from Sarah's point of view with little snatches of a mystery person's pov. If you're familiar with the aforementioned stories, you'll know pretty soon where the story is headed. There were plenty of secondary characters to try to throw you off and have you second guessing supernatural or psychological, but most of the feelings of dread found here are from the knowing what Sarah is about to go through. The writing style, especially in the beginning, used a lot of short choppy sentences that gave it a staccato flow for me. This worked and didn't work for me, not a personal style favorite but when put together with how Sarah, her husband, and her two kids are portrayed in the first half, isolated or detached from one another, the style fits. The second half flows more smoothly as the pace picks up a bit, the reader starts to learn more as Sarah and her family start to interact and blind spots from only getting Sarah's point of view, start to fill. 

I'm thinking of the dozen cracks in his control that have grown since we moved here. 

When the reader comes into the story, Sarah is trying to emerge from deep depression over her mother's death and a maybe suicide attempt. Patrick convinces her to give up her inherited money to buy his childhood dream home, which they can only afford because fifteen years ago, a family, except for the younger son, was murdered there. Patrick's childhood home is called Murder House. Every thing is murky for Sarah as she is on medication and trying to become herself again, this makes the story murky, along with a lot of characters. Some secondary characters worked as credible misdirections and others, like Ian Hooper convicted of one of the murders, Tom the surviving younger son, and Sarah's friend Caroline, ended up landing very flat because of how they weren't utilized correctly; introduced, tangentially boogeymen, at times forgotten, and then left to sort of drift off. 

I have to face it, stop hiding. I shake my head. I always do this---eyes tight shut, hands over my ears, hoping it will all go away if I just pretend it isn't happening. I can't do that anymore. 

While I mentioned the constant circling of the question between supernatural or psychological, which the story never really gives a definite answer to, and Patrick's slow unraveling sending shivers down your spine, I think a lot of women will recognize the true horror of the story to be all the gaslighting. Murder House felt like an allegoric symbol for a woman trapped, pretty veneer covering up rot, showing once again, ghosts might not be the scariest beings haunting your home.
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text 2019-03-07 22:00
The Woman in the Dark - Vanessa Savage

"You have to get us out of here, Mum," Joe says again as I go back toward my room.



This has a fairly strong Amityville Horror vibe.

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