RSS Feed

Tag Archives: book review

I Capture the Castle

Posted on

i capture the castle

I loved this book but kind of in the way you love your grandmother, sometimes her ideas and the things she says really aren’t things that people say anymore, you’re a little embarrassed buy this but you can still see the value. This book was originally published in 1948 and reading you’re not the least bit surprised. The book is written as 17 year old Casandra’s journal, I’ve always been a fan for this style of writing. If you want me to love a book just make it sound like I’m reading someone’s journal. I wonder what that says about me? Oh well…

Abuse is handled as a very normal, even expected thing. “Oh father -do you think that’s what has been the matter with you – that you stopped getting violent? Has repressing your temper somehow repressed your talent?” (299) Her father, James Mortmain, wrote one successful novel and then the neighbor caught him brandishing a cake knife at his wife, even though its frequently stated that James wouldn’t have really hurt her. He was just upset, but the cake knife incident landed him three months in jail.  Once he is released from jail, James takes a 40 year lease on a crumbling castle in the country, moves his family there, and never writes again.  I’m not really sure his temper ever really does go away, just the physical abuse. James spends his days in the gatehouse and people are never to disturb him or question him in any way. If they try they are either glared at or spoken to very sharply, even if it’s his wife.

Casandra is an endearing protagonist. Even though their family is dirt poor Casandra never seems bitter about it, unlike her sister. Casandra always’ tries to make the best out of a situation even if she doesn’t completely know what, if anything, she should do.

A lot of reviews I read for this book all said it was written for 15 year old girls, which quite frankly kind of pissed me off. This is a coming of age story written from the perspective of a 17 year old girl, many coming of age stories with male protagonist are viewed as books everyone should read. The male reviewers frequently stated that they now had to do something to “prove” their masculinity, because of course reading a book with by a woman about a young woman is so completely threatening to your (from what I could tell) cis, heterosexual, masculinity. These reviews just reinforced that we have a society that views males as the default.

I really wasn’t in the mood to read a coming of age story, I read the first few pages and then decided that I would read it later. Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t get the characters out of my head, I still can’t. I ended up needing to finish the book, not wanting to. There were times when I kept wondering what kept drawing me back in and the best answer I can come up with is Dodie Smith is a brilliant writer. All of the characters were fleshed out and had a distinct voice. If you’re comfortable with your sexuality and want to read an incredibly well written and timeless book, grab this one.

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

Yes

Trigger Warning:

Abuse

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

Advertisements

A Dark Dividing

Posted on

a dark dividing

 

A Dark Dividing by is Sarah Rayne is a gothic mystery spanning over 80 years.  It has a multiple POV, which jumps back and forth though time. The book introduces us to Henry, a down on his luck reporter to do an in depth article on a photographer, Simone Anderson. Henry’s article isn’t on her photography though but on her twin sister and mysterious mother.

The most interesting character was Charlotte, if the whole book had been about her I would have loved it. None of the people are really the main characters, its Mortmain House, an old workhouse and orphanage. All of the characters end up here at one point or another.  The scenes in Mortmain house are supposed to be most suspenseful and scariest but they just didn’t quite cut it.

It starts out strong but about halfway through I was just waiting for it to end. The last 50 or so pages drew me back in. There is supposed to be some horror in the story but when it appears it’s pretty mild. I’m disappointed I didn’t like this book more. It had great potential but it really couldn’t hold my attention.  This was the first book I’ve ever read by Sarah Rayne so I think I’ll give her another chance.

 

Trigger Warnings:

Slurs

Child Molestation

Rape

Sexual Assault

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

Yes

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

 

 

 

 

Redefining Realness

Posted on

redefining realness

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock is a memoir about Janet discovering and living her truth. For Mock this truth is that she’s trans* but that is not all that defines her. Unfortunately while Mock has many traits the one that she had the hardest time to come to terms with was her gender.

“I often say I always knew I was a girl since the age of three or four, a time when I began cataloging my memories. No one-not my mother, my grandmother, my father or my siblings- gave me any reason to believe that I was anything other than my parents’ firstborn son, my father’s namesake. But it was my very first conviction, the first thing I grew certain of as a young person. When I say I always knew I was a girl with such certainty, I erase all the nuances, the work, the process of self-discovery. I’ve adapted I always knew I was a girl as a defense against the louder world, which has told me-ever since I left Mom’s body in that pink hospital atop a hill in Honolulu- that my girlhood was imaginary, something made up that needed to be fixed” (pg 16)

This quote replayed in my head all day after I read it. I can’t even begin to imagine needing to edit part of your story so it fits better with the current accepted narrative.  When Mock first meets her boyfriend she can’t believe how easy he talks about his past. She marvels at it, and wonders what it would be like to just be able to talk about it without fear of rejection.

Mock takes the reader through her journey starting when she is a young boy in Hawaii to living her truth in New York and finding the love of her life.  She doesn’t gloss over any part of her journey which makes for a heart wrenching and inspiring tale.

Mock’s story of triumph is all too rare, most trans people aren’t this lucky. Want a scary statistic? Mocks group is the one most liking to be prayed on, abused and murdered. Can you imagine living your life knowing you’re one wrong person away from being killed and most people wouldn’t fault them for killing you? The life that these woman are forced to live is shameful. The fact that we have and continue to allow any group of people to face this kind of hate on a daily basis is despicable.

This book has been on my to read list for so long and I don’t know why I waited.  This book makes me want to run down a crowded street and yell at everyone to read it.  

Trigger Warnings:

Child Abuse

Child molestation

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

N/A

*any and all description terms I use in this review are Mock’s. This review is about Mock’s story, not my white, cis one.

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

Not a Drop to Drink

Posted on

not a drop to drink

 

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis is about a dystopian future where water has become worth killing for.  The beginning of the book introduces us to Lynn and her mother, Lauren.  People always ask why I love young adult fiction and this is why. We have a female protagonist in a dire situation and she can take care of herself.  Lynn never knew her father and it’s just been her and her mother defending their pond. The pond is a clean source of water and one of the only consistent ones in the area. Lynn’s family has owned the land for generations and she and her mother are determined to defend it at all costs.

The beginning of the book reminds me a lot of The Road by Cormac McCarthy but less bleak. Just like the two main characters in The Road Lynn and Lauren have gone from house to house to grab whatever goods they can use.  There’s not a lot of action going on and we are introduced to the world that has formed with water becoming scarce. Lynn learned to shoot as soon as she was big enough to hold a gun, she and her mother take turns sitting on the roof sniping anyone that gets too close. When they’re not sitting on the roof they’re gathering water or food to store for the winter. Luckily for Lynn her mother was a big fan of National Geographic and understands the basics of living off the grid.

Like most young adult novels there is a little bit of romance but thankfully not the creepy stalker kind. Lynn does meet at young man but he’s not verbally abusive or manipulative. It’s a sad statement of our media that I find it refreshing that when a girl meets a boy he doesn’t treat her like crap and she doesn’t become a different person for him. The romance in this book also has the traditional roles reversed, Lynn can hunt and defend herself but Eli grew up in the city and doesn’t know the first thing about how to survive.

This book poses the interesting question what would you do if one day no more water came out of your faucets.  Reading how hard Lynn and Lauren work just to survive makes me eternally grateful for our modern day conveniences.

 

Trigger Warnings:

Rape

Sexual Assault

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

Yes

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

Death Without Company

Posted on

death without company

 

Death Without Company by Craig Johnson is the second book in the Longmire series.  This mystery starts when a local woman, Mari Baroja, dies at Durant Home for Assisted Living. This is also where Lucian, Walt’s mentor and former sheriff, lives. Lucian insists that Baroja’s death wasn’t the caused by old age and demands an investigation be opened. Walt, being the current sherif, is forced to figure out if Lucian is right or if Baroja died of natural causes. Walt is forced to unravel his mentor’s old secrets and those of Baroja, but don’t worry he still does it with his dry wit.

A nice addition to this story is Walt’s new dog, Dog. It’s a perfectly fitting name for Walt to give an animal; it fits better than Fido ever would. We were introduced to Dog in the first book, The Cold Dish¸ but Dog belonged to Vonnie Hayes. In the end of the last book after Vonnie committed suicide, Dog just shows up at Walt’s door and won’t leave.  They grieve for Vonnie together, in a way that no one else can.

The interplay between Walt and the other characters is what makes this series work.  A lone cop trying to solve a crime wouldn’t work in this world and thank god for that. Walt doesn’t get to pull stupid stunts and then we’re told how brave and wonderful he is.  When Walt does something stupid everyone that sees him tells how they feel about his recent antics. Henry, his best friend, and Moretti, one of his deputy’s, are fleshed out more but they keep their distinct voices.

If you have any problems with graphic abuse and sexual assault do not read this book. I repeat do not read this book. These acts are horrific and Johnson describes them in a way that makes you fully feel their weight.

I was nervous that the second book wouldn’t pull me in as strongly as the first one but I shouldn’t have.

Trigger Warnings:

Abuse

Sexual assault (graphic)

Rape (graphic)

Domestic Violence

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

No

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

The Color of Magic

Posted on

the-colour-of-magic-2

              The Color of Magic by Terry Prachett is the first novel in a science fiction series about a far off world named Discworld. I’m pretty lucky because no one told me this book was going to be amazing so it had no hype to live up to. If you don’t like the idea of a flat world resting on the back of four elephants standing on the back of a giant turtle this is not the book for you. This isn’t one of those books where you can skim whole paragraphs because if you try that suddenly you’re in a completely different part of the world with no idea as to how you got there. Hell, sometimes if you don’t skim you still just end up somewhere with no idea as to why or how that happened. The book isn’t one whole story but more of a collection of four short stories. At times this does cause the book to feel jumpy and confusing.

I didn’t hate nor did I particularly like the main characters, Rincewind, a failed wizard, and Twoflower, a tourist. Twoflower bumbles around being excited by everything meanwhile, Rincewind follows him around trying to keep Twoflower from getting himself killed. My two favorite characters were Death and the Luggage. The Luggage is a magical chest that has the personality of a big, loyal, sloppy dog. If it ever gets separated from Twoflower, its master, it will run over anyone and anything in its path to get back to him, hilariousness ensues. Death randomly pops in and out to see if Rincewind is going to get out of whatever mess he’s in or if Death can finally take him. Whenever Rincewind does manage to survive Death is very put off and sulks, which an amusing image.

This book is funny, but it’s the kind of book that gets funnier the each time you read it. Knowing what I know now some of the jokes in the beginning are hilarious, but when I first read them weren’t even laugh out loud funny. This book series has a cult following and it’s easy to see why. Almost every review of this book I’ve read said that this is the weakest book in the series, so if this book doesn’t quite do it for you try another one before you completely give up on the Discworld universe.

 

Trigger Warnings:

No known triggers

happy pooh bear

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

Not even close. Unless I miscounted there are only a handful female characters in the entire book. They all have names but they never interact with one another. This book travels through  an entire world and we never have more than one female character in a scene at a time. That makes total sense…

yeah sure

 

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

What Angels Fear

Posted on

what angels fear

What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris is a historical mystery sent in London in 1811. The main character Sebastian St. Cyr is accused of a brutal murder of a young actress. Our hero, knowing he is innocent flees arrest and attempts to solve the mystery himself.

The mystery was enough to keep me engaged. I was pretty sure I knew who the killer was fairly early but I wasn’t sure how all the pieces would fall together and if Sebastian would be able to clear his name. All of the characters were well rounded and thought out. This is the first book in the series and we are not privy to all of the characters secrets yet. Besides the main mystery there are little tidbits here and there hinting at future plot lines. None of these hints felt forced and were tantalizing enough that I want to continue the series.

If Sebastian were a lady everyone who reads this book would have call him a Mary Sue, but he’s not a lady.  Men can be obscenely perfect but the ladies can’t, if you think I’m wrong, apply the standards of a Mary Sue to Batman. Sebastian has super awesome hearing and eyesight, so awesome he can almost see in the dark. His hearing is so good that he can hear whispers in another room. I kept waiting to find out he was part demon or something but nope just a human with some super awesome senses.

pshhhhh

Sebastian is wounded emotionally from a bad breakup that caused him to sign up to fight France. When he returns he is more damaged than before. Sebastian is the tired hero that keeps insisting that he’s “no hero” and everyone just nodding their heads and smirking. To keep Sebastian in line he’s given a little helper in the form of a street child named Tom.  He surprises Sebastian more than once with his resourcefulness and perceptiveness. Tom is adorable and street smart, he definitely adds to the story.

Next time I’m in the mood for a historical mystery I’m going to have zero qualms about picking up the next book in this series.

Trigger Warnings:

  • Rape
  • Necrophilia
  • Animal abuse mention
  • Gore

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

No.

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)