Posted in arc, Uncategorized

Fighting Hislam

Fighting Hislam

Susan Carland

Melbourne University Press

Publication Date – 1st May 2017

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I was given this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review,  This book was written to quash to (un)truisms about Muslim women:  the first, that women are always oppressed by their religion; and, secondly, that women’s liberation can only come through the rejection of Islam.  The writer, a western convert to the faith, speaks of people’s reactions to her research, outlining how they would inevitably think that, when she told them that she would be researching women and Islam, she would be talking of victimisation and oppression.  They would assume that any activism would take the shape of a rejection of Islam. In the face of this, the author has interviewed Muslim women from; Australia, North America, and Egypt who fight oppression from the inside of their faith, using Islam and Islamic scriptures as a tool in their struggle.  

Her interviewees speak of; their relationship to their religion, use of Islamic scripture  within their fight for equality, the attitudes of other Muslims,   their treatment  at the hands  of  Islamic leaders, their feeling towards the west, their attitudes concerning feminism, and how modern day western thought and apprehensions about Islam  affect their lives. These interviews give a challenging, but inspirational, view of the lives of those women fighting to gain a footing in their faith, showing that women can, and have, played a role in Islam, challenging, both; the western ideas concerning their faith and the believes, of some of the adherents of Islam, concerning the role of women.  This is an academic work but is accessible to an interested non-academic reader.  The writing is clear and there is an absence of academic lingo.  If you have an interest in; Islam, faith, gender, activism, scripture, colonialism and/or feminism, you should read this text.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in arc, Uncategorized

Double reviev

Beyond Trans

Heath Fogg Davis

NYU Press

Publication Date 06th June 2017

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This book was given me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.    This book challenges our understanding of gender and sexual identity.  The author asks the question ‘why are so many spheres of life dependent on a rigid sexualised/gendered segregation.  Utilising the case studies of; Transport passes requiring gender identifiers, public toilets, sex segregated colleges and sports, they question the necessity of the sexual/gendered divisions utilised by the institutions that create and govern these artefacts/spaces.  This is an interesting and thought provoking work.

 

Post Truth; the new war on truth and how to fight back

Matthew D’ancona

Penguin Random House

Publication Date 18th May 2017

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This book looks at the rise of fake news in modern society and seeks to analyse the rise of this phenomena   The book explores the ways how the concept of truth and truth telling have been belittled in modern society.  The author bemoans the ways in which scientific knowledge and expertise have been discredited by powerful political and business interests. He uses; the Brexit campaign, the Trump campaign, Global warming sceptics, holocaust deniers and those spreading fear over vaccinations to build his case.  He argues that these campaigns have been based on a disregarding of truth, and scientific fact, and an exploitation of emotional rhetoric.  The author argues that these stories have gained wings with the advent of social media.    This is an interesting and topical work that needs to be read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in arc, reviews

Wolf Nation Brenda Peterson

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The publisher kindly gave me this book in exchange for an honest review.  This book begins with the author giving us a glimpse of her childhood, outlining how she was brought up in a rural family and taught to respect, love, and protect all of nature.  That ideal shines through this work.  It’s basically about how humans and animals, in this case Wolves, interact.  It’s about our relationship with nature.

 

It explores the various mythologies, both; negative and positive, that surround the Wolf.  The author deconstructs historical, and present day stories, explaining how these narratives have shaped our relationships with the Wolf. The author explores the way that ‘western man’ has sought to domesticate and tame nature; both, in their European homeland and those countries that they went onto colonialise. She argues that modern ‘mans’ attempts to dominate and domesticate nature have affected those creatures, like the wolf, who continually oppose ‘mans’ domination. She looks at the horrendous treatment that humans have meted out to Wolves, outlining the way that Wolves have; been hunted to near extinction, poisoned, and exterminated.   She explores the hostility some people feel towards wolves and their advocates.

 

She narrates the alternative, more positive ways to view the wolves.    Peterson looks at the programs put in place, throughout America with the sole aim of bringing these animals back to the places they belong.  We get a glimpse of the lives of the people and animals who are living/working to change humanities perception of wolves and their role in our world.

 

The author looks at the way that the reintroduction of wolves to their natural habitats has had a positive effect on those spaces and the beings that inhabit them.  However, she then argues that studies have shown that it is not enough to reintroduce one, land mark, species.   If you want a thriving natural world, all species, both large and small, must be allowed to play their part.

 

Peters makes a strong case of how engaging with, and learning from, nature can have a positive effect on our physical and psychological wellbeing, giving examples of the individuals, from school children to troubled adults, who have sought nature and the positive benefits that these encounters have brought them.  She makes a strong narrative case of the interdependence of all living things, arguing how one species controls and supports others. She explains how we all play a role in protecting the world in which we live and the natural settings that surround us, arguing that no species can be eliminated without series consequences to other aspects of nature.   This book makes the reader have all the feels and It’s a must read.

 

 

 

 

Posted in arc, reviews

The unseen by Roy Jacobsen

​The Unseen

By Roy Jacobsen, trans. Don Bartlett and Don Shaw

 

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This book has been shortlisted for the Man International Booker prize and was inspired by the time that the author spent on a small island;    

‘The novel was written on an island similar to Banøy off the northern Norwegian coast, where my family comes from, and where I partly grew up. I still spend three to four months a year in a house that I have built myself on this island, the best place for me to work, ever.’ http://themanbookerprize.com/news/unseen-interview

The same interview tells us that; 

‘The book is a modern portrait of a lifestyle that is long gone, a family living on a small island in the northern part of Norway, living on what they can catch and hunt and find in the sea. A gargantuesque drama – Man vs Nature – as seen through the eyes of a little girl coming of age who eventually – as her parents die – is obliged to take charge, become the master of the island, on whom everyone else depends.. ‘

This book traces the lives of an isolated family; their births, their marriages, their goals and ambitions, their individual achievements and tragedies, and their deaths. It traces their attempts to build new structures on their island, battling against nature and taking them generations to accomplish.

This book is an atmospheric look at  life on a small island and the people who live on it. It traces their struggles with the natural world. It explores the changes occurring in society, their effects on this family, their attempts to adapt and the things that they lose in their attempts to adapt. They fight to get a regular boat service to their island. They must pay the prize – a lighthouse which will destroy their isolated lives and turn  self sufficient individuals into tied, dependent, wage earners.
This is a quiet book about a quiet island.  It is slow paced, occasionally dragging, mirroring the often slow and boring life of the island.  If you like fast paced stories, filled with high stakes dramas, then this book is not for you.  However, if you like picturesque stories, set in rural settings, then you will like this book.

Posted in arc

​The Power of MeaningEmily Esfahani Smith

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

This book explores the things that make for a contented life; arguing that money and possessions don’t always make us feel happy. The author, utilizing personal experience and academic sources, argues that, in order to live a contented life, a person needs to live a fulfilled life connected to a close knit community. 

This book didn’t blow me away.  Much of the argument seemed obvious. But, it’s a pleasant read and could be a great primer for those new to the subject.

Posted in arc, Diversity, literature, reviews, world fiction

​Ida By Alison Evans

I was given this by by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Ida is a normal, unmotivated, individual who can time travel or that is what she believes.  She is in a relationship with a non binary artist.  She lives with her father and autistic relative and has no idea what to do with her life.  All she knows is that she can jump around in time. At first, she only uses that power in emergencies. But, then it becomes addictive. Then, Ida loses control of her powers,  having no control concerning when she jumps. The places where she lands get more surreal and frightening with each jump. Soon she discovers that there is more to her power than meets the eye. 
In many ways this book is nothing to write home about. It is a conventionally written speculative fiction work. However,  this book has a diverse range of characters and that is its major selling point. Both the autistic and non binary characters are fairly well drawn.  This book would make a great option for those wishing for a diverse YA/ spec read.