Posted in arc review, Uncategorized

Monster, She Wrote The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger; Melanie R. Anderson

Source Netgalley (in the hope of an honest review)

What do you think of when you think of horror? Well, sadly, most people think of film. Moreover, if you think of books and authors, then, I am guessing that, the names Stephen King and Clive Barker come to mind. I would imagine that you don’t think of women writers. In fact, a few people reading this post are saying; ‘women don’t write horror’. ‘Monster She Wrote’ seeks to proof that women have always written horror. In fact, women were at the very start of the horror movement. They were major names within the literary movement that gave birth to horror, i.e. the Gothic.

This book looks at the lives, and works, of female authors, placing them in context with their historical era. The authors explore the history of the horror movement and the role of women within that sphere. The book begins by examining horror’s gothic routes, exploring the work of writers, such as; Anne Radcliffe and Mary Shelley. It then moves onto the spiritualist writings of, relatively unknown writers, such as Alice Askew. The authors then take us through the pulps, exploring the work of writers, such as Charlotte Riddle and Elizabeth Gaskell. Then the work examines modern day horror queens, such as Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice and Sarah Walters.

This book seeks to fill a very large hole within the history of horror, giving the work of women authors the attention it deserves. But, it does more than that; providing a useful introduction to the history of the field , introducing each of its waves, and contextualising these movements against their wider historical setting. It’s an interesting look at an interesting field of literature

Posted in Book review, Uncategorized

Our Women on the Ground Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World by Zahra Hankir

We all believe that we know the Arab world. We see it on our screens and in our newspapers. We see Arab men fighting. We see other men, generally white western men, filming those male fighters. It’s easy to believe that women don’t exist within this world. We imagine that, if they do exist, they are absent from the public life of the realm. Actually, this is far from the truth. Female journalists are very active in this part of the globe. We just don’t see or notice them. They are reporting for; the international press, local media, blogging outlets, personal blogs, and, social network platforms. They have a wealth of experience to share. But, that experience often goes unreported. This book seeks to put that right.

‘Our Women on the Ground‘ is made up of the stories of the female journalists who have experience of reporting on, and from, this region. It includes women from all, or at least many of, the countries that make up this diverse part of the world. There are the stories of journalists who are active. There are the reminiscences of those who have retired. There are essays from women who still live in the region. There are articles from those women who are now, sadly, in exile.

Each essay has a different tone and focus. Some focus on the choice, or dilemmas, involved in juggling work and family life. Others speak of being active in a world that expects women to be passive. They speak of fighting, family editors and other journalists, for the right to write. They speak of the perils of being an out-spoken journalist in a world hostile to journalists. These women talk of; hope, despair, fear, and burn out. But, most are imbued with a sense of survival and resistance. They are totally different. They are all indispensable reading.

Posted in Uncategorized, Weekly wrap up

Weekly wrap up

 

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. 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Short catch up review In Search of Our WarrIor Mothers By La Donna Forsgren

In Search of Our WarrIor Mothers
Women Dramatists of the Black Arts Movement
By La Donna Forsgren
Northwestern University Press

Please be aware that I received this book, via Netgalley, from the publisher in the hope of an honest review. This book looks at the U.S. Black arts scene of the 1960s/1970s. In particular, it explores the Black theatre movement, focusing especially on the role of African American women within that movement. The author focuses their attention on the role of; Martie Evans-Charles, J.e. Franklin, Sonia Sanchez, and Barbara Ann Teer. The work seeks to shine a light on the work of these three relatively forgotten artists. The author seeks to highlight the contribution of these artists to our understanding of; race, gender, and community.

This work is part of a trend in literature, and the wider arts movement, to draw attention to neglected voices. It is a very valuable contribution to that tradition. In addition, it is an enjoyable read. I highly recommend

Posted in Book review, Uncategorized

Transitioning; a review of queer sex (by juno roach) and written on the body (ed. Lexie Bean) trigger warnings the books reviewed here contain discussions of sexual violence and other issues that may cause concern to certain readers. Read when you feel strong enough

Please be aware that I Recieved these books from the publisher, via NetGalley, in the hope of an honest review and that both of these books, and this review, could be triggery for sexual violence etc Since these books, share a similar focus, I am going to review them together. They both deal with transgender experiences of all kinds, outlining; the physical nature of living as a transgender individual, the violence that the authors have experienced as a product of society’s hostility to their identity, the authors’ experience of the various aspects of the transgender/queer experience, their feelings concerning their own identity, the authors’ relationships with their physicality, and the variety of changes that can occur within bodies undergoing a varied array of transitioning experience.

Written on the Body is in the form of letters to various parts of the physical torso. They look at the authors’ ambiguous relationships with various aspects of their physicality. Some authors explore the effects of physical, and sexual violence, on their feelings towards the chosen body part. While others, discuss what happens when a body part feels wrong or uncomfortable. They discuss their struggles to come to terms with a body that feels at odds with their perceived identity. These letters are moving and insightful. They are a must read for anyone; undergoing transition, anyone who is thinking of undergoing the process, those who identify as transgender/queer, or anybody who simply wishes to get a glimpse into the experiences of queer/transgender individuals.

Queer sex begins with the author’s exploration of their relationship with their body and their physicality/ sexuality. The author then goes on a; physical, emotional and spiritual journey. In the course of their journey, the main author speaks to their mentors about their experiences of; living in their body, navigating a world that is often hostile to that body, and finding a way to live their own chosen identity. These conversations deal with issues of; confusion, pain, self realisation, growing self confidence and pride.

Queer sex deals with issues, of; self hate, social norms and their effects on our self image, self love, pride, and self empowerment. It grounds personal experience in; communal narrative, and an existing theoretical framework; thus, providing a multilayered investigation of a slice of the queer experience. It is well worth a read

As a Cis disabled woman, these books: gave me a glimpse of an experience that I cannot share. At the same time, the stories of the narrators’ lives allowed me to dwell on my own experience of living in an, occasionally, hostile body. Therefore, reading these books was an emotionally moving, challenging, empowering, and ultimately joyous experience. These books are worth a read

Posted in Book review, Uncategorized

The man who climbs trees

The Man Who Climbs Trees

By James Aldred

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Pub Date 22 May 2018

Source Netgalley

James Aldred climbs trees for a living. He scout’s out trees that provide the best camera angles. He is part of a team that produces those nature documentaries that we all love. This book explores his relationship with trees. He narrates those episodes in his life that inspired his love of trees before outlining his journey to his current position. He then sketches some filming assignments, giving beautifully descriptive accounts; of the trees and nature that he encountered on his journey, the extraordinary lengths that he takes to get those shots, and the sometimes nerve jangling wild encounters that happened throughout his career. Part memoir, part nature log, this book is, above all other things, a love letter to trees and the nature that they help support

Posted in Review, reviews, Uncategorized

Crafting campaigns

Sarah Corbett

How to be a craftivist

Unbound (please note that I was originally gifted an arc from the publisher via netgalley but I loved it that much that I brought my own copy)

Unraveling the problem

Coming from a political family, I have always been political. Moreover, I took women’s studies, and took part in many campaigns, during my time at university. In addition, I work, as a volunteer, with the RNIB and Oxfam, on the campaigns that matter to me. As a disabled person, those activities have recently taken on a greater urgency. So, my campaigning life has become busier and more intense.

Recently, therefore I have been feeling tired, disillusioned, and unfocused. I am finding it hard to know where to spend my campaigning energies; which campaigns to prioritise when they all seem so important.

We live in turbulent times; Trump in the White House, Brexit, sexual abuse scandals, police violence, the deaths of black men, hate crimes against marginalized groups, global warming, and austerity still ruining peoples lives. The list goes on and on. This has led many campaigners, including the author of this blog, to feel tired and dispirited.

Sarah Corbett, mirroring my own concerns, speaks of the tendency of campaigners to spread themselves too thinly; to feel that they have to be everywhere, doing everything, fighting every battle. This leads to the temptation to cut corners and to complete tasks that can be undertaken quickly. These methods are often unsuccessful, leaving the campaigners angry and disillusioned.

Moreover, the author states that campaigners, often driven by anger, react in a knee jerk manner to situations that arise. This, Corbet tells us, can often lead to mistakes and knee-jerk actions can often lead to negative outcomes.

Crafting a solution

Sarah instructs us, not just to react to negative situations as they arise, but rather, to think about the world we wish to craft. In my case, that world would be one in which disabled people and other marginalized groups; would feel safe, able to live a productive life, have our voices heard, and live in a manner that respects both other people and the world in which we live.

Corbett argues that campaigners need to take a step back and think about; what campaigns they focus on, why they feel the need to campaign, where their skills can be best utilized, and what methods will get the best outcomes. We need to ensure, often in consultation with those individuals who we are seeking to help, that our campaigns will have a positive impact on the issues that we care about.

The author, also, challenges campaigners to break their addiction to quick campaign methods, i.e; the online petition and template letter. Campaigners are instructed to slow down our campaigning; to take time to craft methods that will create the best possible outcomes. For example, she argues that we should get to know our representatives and personalize our interactions with them.

This book came at exactly the right time for me and, while I will not take her every suggestion on board, I will slow down, both my writing and campaigning. I will see my writing as part of my campaigning. I will take time to write letters that engage the reader and not simply send a template letter or sign a petition. I will take time on my reviews, and other writing. If the book is good enough to write about, I should give it the time it deserves. If the issue is important enough to raise passion, I should be able to express my passions in a manner that engages the reader. The arguments contained within this book are too broad and too deep to express in a short post. Therefore, I have picked the bits that spoke to me and left other sections for the reader to find on their own. For example, I have left out any discussion of craft. You should really get hold of a copy and read it. I highly recommend this book.