I plan to read the list. What about you? Are you excited? Anything you wish was on the list?
For the week ending 29th June 2019
Rain, Rain and more rain, will it ever end? I have managed to put up three posts this week, or at least I will when this one goes live. I have read two books: My name is Monster, by Katie Howe and The Hounds of Justice by Claire O’Dell. (both of which were given to me by the publishers in the hope of an honest review), Both were good books. I will review Hounds of Justice in full later.
My name is Monster focuses on the experiences of an eponymous protagonist as she moves through a desolate landscape. Her world has been destroyed: first, by a war; then, by a deadly infectious disease. She, one of the survivors, travels through a destructed physical landscape. As monster travels, she is engrossed with her own mental landscape; a mental landscape of half formed memories. Her memories of childhood return in flashes and dreams. One by one, she pulls out memories of the events, and people, that constitute the landscape of her childhood. This bleak, but ultimately hopeful book, explores: – gender, self-identification and survival.
The book utilizes lyrical writing to bring alive its world. The slow pace really mirrors the characters slow progress through this empty physical landscape and the confusing mental landscape of her childhood memories. Yet, these same factors, the boring tempo of both plot and language, could make for a difficult read, particularly if you like a fast-paced plot. I highly commend this book for those who like, or who can get past, its slow pace.
I am presently still making my way through Sara Sheridan’s back list. In addition, I have just started the Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite. I am listening to; How to Survive a Plague by David France and the Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan.
Black Studies, and activism, have always had an interest in studying and participating in; Pan-Africanism, Black internationalism, and the connections that exist between various sections of the international Black Diaspora. However, as Keisha N. Blain and Tiffany M. Gill inform us, the focus of these studies centred on the activities of men. To Turn the World seeks to rectify this omission, highlighting the role of women in the struggle for an international Black identity.
To Turn The World is an anthology of essays concerning the role of women within the Black internationalist community. The various authors explore the lives of a varied sample of these women. It takes a look at the lives: of the wives/widows of Black activists, such as; Eslanda Robeson, and lesser known women who were simply acting as tourist activists. The Authors focus on women occupying the roles of; tourist, journalist, unofficial diplomats, or activists. The book spans the globe; from the USA to Europe and from Australia to Haiti.
These essays give a glimpse of the activities of a hidden group of activists, adding to an ever growing cannon of works that seek to explore the role of women within history. It is an enjoyable, and informative work.
This book, based on Mary Shelley’s, Frankenstein, has two narrative streams. The first, follows the circumstances around Mary Shelley’s creation of the book Frankenstein. The second centres upon the narrative of a transgender doctor, called Rye, and their relationship with the AI specialist Victor Stein. It poses two questions. What will a future, dominated by AI look like? And, will that future hold a place for women? Along the way, it looks at; Bodily autonomy, gender, sexuality and performance.
This book is an interesting read, but there’s very little new stuff here. Winterson is being Winterson. We have her standard stylistic tics, combining a modernist structure with a lyrical, almost Victorian writing style. After a lifetime of reading this author, her writing feels like a comfortable blanket rather than a shocking ride. In addition, the stories, and themes of this book have been covered time and time again. There have been many tales of the creation of Frankenstein and many retellings of the Frankenstein story.
In addition, there have been many books dealing with AI. The science fiction canon is full of them. Writers, such as; James Tiptree and Madeleine Ashby have all looked at issues around AI. This is not to say that there is no room for another book. It is just that the themes feel familiar.
However, Winterson’s focus on the main transgender character and her emphasis on women’s future give this work a slight edge. It’s always nice to get something new from this author, but this work didn’t blow me away.
Will it ever stop raining. It’s been another wet and grey week. I have done a good amount of writing. Two blog posts have gone up this week. At least they will have gone up when this has been posted. I have two posts awaiting review and will, hopefully, appear next week.
Reading wise, I Have read Nine Flush Unicorn. This is the second in a series that began with the book Unicorn Space. This series is wonderfully surreal. While, at the same time being, very socially aware. The world of this book has; unicorns, ghosts, dryads, and other mythical creatures. Humans have gone into space. They have come into contact with planets full of mythical creatures with who have very useful magical powers, including the ability to enable very fast space travel. So, of course, humans do what humans do. They conquer the planet and enslave its inhabitants. This book examines the experiences of some of this world’s inhabitants. The series has a diverse group of characters, including people with disabilities and people who identify themselves as Queer. In addition, I read ‘notes to self’. This will receive a full review next week.
I am currently reading the second in the Brighton Belle series. (See last week’s wrap up). So far so good. Talk to you again next week.
I’ve still got a backlog of arcs needing review. So, this week I am reviewing three books
When most people think of James Baldwin they tend to think of the earlier work, written during the Civil Rights era. They tend to forget that Baldwin was alive and working during the Eighties. ‘James Baldwin in the 80’s’, by Joseph Vogel, seeks to rectify this omission. This work looks at: the films which Baldwin wrote at this time; the books that make up his later oeuvre; and his attitudes towards the issues of the day, such as; AIDS, gay rights and race relations. It argues that Baldwin disregarded the dominant dichotomy between high and low culture, exploring the films which Baldwin made during the early Eighties. In addition, Vogel explores Baldwin’s individuality, emphasizing his dual identity, being both; African American and gay. The author argues that these aspects of Baldwin’s life, and work, make him a perfect inspiration for our post post modern, intersectional, age.
Strip by Catlyn Ladd outlines the author’s experiences of being a stripper. It looks at her reasons for her choice of occupation and the positive benefits she gained from her choice, saying that it made her more positive about her body and sexuality. In addition, it looks at the abuses faced by the author and her colleagues. She compares her experiences with the narratives of her colleagues, before contrasting them with the myths surrounding, both; sex work, and the people who work in that sector.
Anyone who reads books will be interested in those works that got away. Anyone who loves the writing of a dead author has always dreamt of finding that lost manuscript. ‘in search of lost book’, Giorgio Van Straten, looks at those manuscripts, that primary sources tell us once existed, but have been either lost or destroyed. It is a highly informative, and enjoyable read.
For the Week 3rd -9th June 2019
This should have been posted on Friday. However, this week that slot was taken by the post ‘This should have been a weekly wrap up’. Therefore, just this once, this post will appear on a Monday.
This week has been busy. There has been; two doctors appointments, Several trips to the shops, community things, and such like. Therefore, I haven’t spent much time at my desk. In addition, it seems to have rained non stop. As I write, It’s still raining.
In addition, I have read several books. I have found a new author, always an exciting event for a reader. I have, also, tried a new genre. I hardly ever read crime fiction. My mum does, but I don’t. I was in the library picking up my reservations and generally having a browse to see what gems I could dig up. I saw a beautiful cover, and a crime sticker, and picked it up for mum.
She loved it and kept nagging me to read the book. So, with the encouragement of a trusted reader and the enticement of that glorious cover, I decided to give Brighton Belle a try. I am glad that I did. Sara Sheridan has created a really beautifully written work, peopled with really interesting characters who live in a realistic historical setting. Set just after the Second World War, a young woman seeks a quiet life, hoping to recover from; the rigours of war, her work as an intelligence officer, and the death of a loved one. She seeks solace; in the sea, her job as an assistant to a debt collector, and her small rebellions against the system. But, adventure finds her in the form of her latest client. I will definitely be reading the other books in the series. So, I was wrong about the crime genre. Any suggestions for similar books? If so, shout out in the comments.
In addition, I read Bernice MaCfadon’s In Praise of Butterflies.
This was another brilliant read. I read it in one sitting. It explores a family’s downfall, the poor decisions made during that downfall, and how these decisions have tragic consequences. This is a beautifully written work. In addition, I read Jannette Winterson’s Frankenkiss. I will post a review of this later this week.