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Weekly Top Posts: 2019-05-19
2019-05-19 04:00 UTC

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Disappointing March Releases
2019-05-14 05:00 UTC by Michelle

One of these things is not like the other. Can you tell which one?

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If, Then
I always find alternate reality stories intriguing; after all, who hasn’t thought of the proverbial fork in the road and wondered how different their lives would be if they made a different decision? What would it be like to find out just how different things would be? Would you regret it?

While alternate realities are a part of If, Then, it turns out the story is not so much an exploration of the road not traveled so much as it is a story about the line between alternate realities blurring. It is about seeing an alternate self and wondering how and why your lives differ. It is trying to make sense of the differences and questioning whether your alternate self is happier. It is about the choices we consciously make and those we don’t recognize as choices but which impact our lives all the same.

I loved Kate Hope Day’s If, Then. It is intelligent but approachable. It is clever, with an ending that took me by surprise even though I thought I knew how the story was going to end. It is supremely well-written, balancing characters and drama with the right blend of development for each. The novel itself is not very long, but Ms. Day makes excellent use of each word to extract the full amount of world and character building necessary for understanding and connection. I just wish it was making more of a splash among readers because it is so creative and an excellent overall read.

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Inspection
While I enjoyed every minute of Kate Hope Day’s debut, Inspection is a novel I almost quit reading on more than one occasion. The premise is decent, and you connect with the characters almost immediately. The problem is that nothing happens for a good two-thirds of the novel. Josh Malerman spends that much time showing the reader his school, what it is like for the students there, and why some staff members may have a problem with it. In other words, the first two-thirds are boring.

Once Mr. Malerman introduces readers to the girls’ school, the story takes off like a rocket. Suddenly, we can see the entire picture and get an idea of where the story is going. We understand the real horror behind the schools’ establishment, and we recognize the manipulative greediness of the headmaster and mistress. The story also gets dark – so very, very dark. While Mr. Malerman avoided showing the monsters in his previous novel, Bird Box, in Inspection we don’t just see them, we get into their minds and see the world from their eyes. We also see the steps the kids are willing to take to gain control of their lives, and it is not pretty. Or tidy.

Inspection is the type of novel I am glad I finished but did not necessarily enjoy. The ending is nothing like I thought it would be. The story went to places I was not expecting, and I am glad it did if only because it improved a subpar novel. I did not enjoy the slog to get to that point though, and the shock and awe of the ending only moderately overcome the monotony of the story’s beginning. That ending certainly allows the story to earn its place in the horror genre, but the true horror is getting through the monotonous first two-thirds of Inspection first.

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Never-Contented Things
Frankly, Never-Contented Things is a significant disappointment. Sarah Porter’s version of the cruelty of the Fae towards humans is neither original nor good. The heroes are weak, and the villains are boring. Ksenia spends so much time defending her relationship with Josh to an invisible audience that the rest of the story feels like an afterthought. As such, those elements Ms. Porter intends to be horrifying are dull, and the entire story lacks excitement. I found myself severely detached while reading it, not caught up in any character’s story enough to warrant my full attention. I finished it in the off-chance it got better and because I still really like the cover. It is not one I would recommend to others though. If you want stories about the Fae, stick with Holly Black, Julie Kagawa, Melissa Marr, or Sarah J. Maas.

 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 13 May 2019
2019-05-13 05:00 UTC by Michelle

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Button
Hosted by Kathryn from Book Date, “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind. Here is what I read the week ending 13 May 2019. To learn more about each book, click on the book cover!

I may not have finished my audiobook, but I did finish two of my most anticipated books of the year this week. Nora always rocks my world, and her latest novel did not disappoint in any way. As for the latest Kaufman/Kristoff collaboration? Holy hell. I am a fan for life of anything they write. I rounded out the week with the final novel of one of my favorite series in recent years and started what I hope will be a fascinating retelling of one of my favorite fairy tales by an excellent author who has not written much in several years. It was probably one of the best reading weeks as far as quality as I have ever had.


FINISHED SINCE THE LAST UPDATE:

Under Currents Aurora Rising


CURRENT READ:

Finale


CURRENT LISTEN:

The Book of Life


NEXT UP:

Stepsister The Favorite Daughter Into the Jungle


What are you reading?

The post It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 13 May 2019 appeared first on That's What She Read.

Sunday Reflections – 12 May 2019
2019-05-12 05:00 UTC by Michelle

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Happy Mother’s Day to those who are celebrating! Happy Sunday to those who are not!

It has been quite a week. There was such an emotional swing this week that it left all three of us feeling empty and a bit lost.

It started Sunday morning with the terrible news that one of the dance dads at the studio died in a horrible car accident on Saturday night. Holly dances with his stepdaughter, and his sister-in-law is one of the studio’s owners. Plus, he has two little girls of his own – ages five and three – who love to dance and were fixtures at the studio with their mom, dad, and aunt. This father helped build props, drove the prop-filled trailer to all of the competitions last year, and helped build the studio from floor to ceiling. It is a tragic loss to the family and the studio. The memorial service was Friday evening. It made for a hard week.

The thing is that in spite of the tragedy, the entire team rallied around the family and danced their hearts out on Sunday, including the stepdaughter. Some of the songs this year are incredibly emotional, but they kept it together and provided the emotional support they needed to get through all of them. It was astounding. At fourteen, Holly was the oldest dancer on the stage for the team that day. For a group of tweens and teens to show that much maturity on stage and off speaks volumes about their training and professionalism. They embodied the word team on Sunday, and I don’t think I was the only parent proud of that fact.

Wednesday was my birthday, for which I took a vacation day. I had no plans. Holly was at school, and Jim had to work. It was probably one of the coldest and gloomiest birthdays I have had in recent years, which made it perfect for staying inside, cuddling with my puppy, and reading. I finished two books before I switched to TV and cross-stitching. Unfortunately, we had to eat dinner late because Jim and Holly did not have time to make it before she had dance classes, but it was delicious. So was the cheesecake they bought from what some consider the best bakery in Milwaukee. They managed to surprise me with presents this year too – which never happens. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was perfect for what I wanted and needed.

Another downer is the fact that Cletus got overly aggressive with Tallulah again and drew blood. The last time he did this was over Christmas when he degloved a portion of her ear after defending his food bowl. We spent the next three months working with an animal behaviorist, who told us that Cletus is incredibly anxious, especially around his sister, and has major guarding issues with things he feels are his – food, certain toys, his person. The behaviorist showed us how to work with him to get him to relax, showed us the signs for when he might start guarding, i.e., attack, and in general reassured us that Cletus is still trainable and not a lost cause by any means because he has not once gone for her throat. If he were serious about protecting his things, the damage would be much, much worse. So, I am trying to look at the bright side of this week’s aggression. He has been so good for so long that something about the training was working. He again only got her ear and nose, and the blood was minimal. As terrible as it sounds when he gets aggressive, I remain convinced he is only warning her. Still, it is incredibly upsetting this happens at all, and it means we do not trust him at all around other dogs. It is also a wake-up call to get serious again about the training.

And then we come to the weekend, which included an open calendar and decent weather. Holly is making all of today’s meals for me, and both Holly and Jim took care of the chores this week. It means a relaxing, quiet weekend with my favorite people, where we all get the chance to catch our breath after this past dance season. In other words, exactly like my birthday, it is what I need right now.

I hope everyone is spending the day exactly how you want and that the weather is cooperating for you. I also wish you all a stress-free and book-filled work week. Take care, and I will see you back here next week!

 

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Here are past posts from the last few weeks in case you missed them the first time:

The post Sunday Reflections – 12 May 2019 appeared first on That's What She Read.

Weekly Top Posts: 2019-05-12
2019-05-12 04:00 UTC

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Playing Catch-Up
2019-05-07 05:00 UTC by Michelle

I have read a lot but reviewed almost nothing over the past few months. Here is my attempt to get caught up on all those outstanding reviews. First up, old review copies I finally got around to reading.

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Foe

I adored Iain Reid’s first novel, and I am happy to report that I enjoyed his second novel every bit as much as his first. I was not confident I was going to do so though. Mr. Reid immediately places you into the setting without any world-building, so you must infer all details at the same time as you watch the story unfold. It is offputting to a reader who may not want to do this because there are few specifics to anchor you to a time and place, leaving you adrift wondering what is happening.

However, for readers willing to infer from the smallest of details, Foe is a deliciously creepy futuristic story in which you are as much in the dark as the main character. You don’t know who the villain of the novel is, but you know there is one because of the way the story makes you feel. The feeling of dread creeps up on you, clawing its way under your skin and never relinquishing its hold, but you never understand why you think this way. There is nothing about Junior and Hen which would indicate a reason for the dread, and there is nothing about Terrence which would show the same. Sure, it is a bit odd to find out that an unknown entity selected you for space travel without your knowledge or permission. Sure, the idea of having a replacement you take your spot in your life is weird. There is nothing overly ominous about any of it, but it is there nonetheless.

Mr. Reid excels at creating suspense where none should seemingly exist. He has you seeing monsters when there are none and using sleight of hand to distract you from the truth. Then, when you least expect it, he smacks you across the face with that truth that rocks you to the core. There is not much in the way of action, but he makes up for that with plenty of atmosphere, again something at which Mr. Reid shines. I highly recommend you check out this incredible author.

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Marilla of Green Gables

Like almost everyone I know my age, I grew up adoring the Anne of Green Gables series. Anne Shirley made me feel better about being an odd duckling, for loving to read and to learn when it seemed that everyone my age scoffed at it, for being socially awkward, and for being a dreamer. So when I found out that Sarah McCoy was writing a novel about Marilla Cuthbert, I knew it was something I had to read.

I might have delayed reading it for a while, but it was worth the wait. Marilla of Green Gables is a great story, but most importantly, Ms. McCoy captures the essence of the original series. Anne fans will recognize all aspects of the island, including familiar faces as well as places. She fills the void in Marilla’s past while staying true to her character, allowing for youthful dreams while recognizing that her loyalty to family is her most important, and best, attribute.

Marilla of Green Gables is perfect for Anne fans who are looking for something a little different but still in keeping with the story we all know and love. It is the type of feel-good story we all need right now, the kind that reminds us of what is truly important while telling us that every age has its struggles. Moreover, it fills a void you don’t even know exists and is a soothing balm against the ravages of the recent years. For that alone, it is well worth taking the time to read this charming novel.

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Salt
When I finally decided to read Salt by Hannah Moskowitz, it made me nervous. The reviews were mediocre, and I could not recall my reasons for requesting it to review. I opened the book determined to give it a chance. What I found between its pages was unexpected but entirely welcome.

Salt is a quirky story about a family of orphaned sea monster hunters. The two oldest children, ages, seventeen and sixteen, are trying to maintain a semblance of normalcy for their two younger siblings while finding themselves increasingly at odds about their future. Bela, the oldest, wants revenge by hunting down the sea monster who killed their parents. Indi, the family caretaker, dreams of a life on land, one that is as foreign to him as living on the sea is to most of the story’s readers. The story follows Indi as he makes choices that will affect his family forever.

There is something seductively charming about this rag-tag family of four. I use the word seductive not in a sexual connotation but in a way that intimates how much the family grabs your attention and refuses to let it go once they have it. They are completely down on their luck, with almost no money and no knowledge of how life on land work. They bicker and fight as all siblings do, but there are faith and camaraderie that exists between the four that I find rare and entrancing. They are a group that is entirely dependent upon one another during a battle, and that blind trust in each other is a marvel to behold.

At the same time, you never forget that these are still children, children without parents to guide them and help them navigate the difficulties of life. The youngest is only six years old. Bela and Indi try to fill their parents’ shoes but, as we see with Indi, are adrift themselves with the loss of their parents. Their plight, as well as their determination to stay the course, tugs at your heartstrings even while you know that each one of them would scorn your sympathy.

Salt may have strange sea monsters and pirates, ocean battles, and perilous journeys across the sea, but it is ultimately a story about family and those ties that bind one to another. It is about duty and choice and freedom. Admittedly, my expectations for Salt were low, but I felt a pull towards this odd novel that is difficult to explain and even more difficult to ignore. You read to determine whether they get a happy ending, something all four so richly deserved after losing their parents and the familiarity of their monster-hunting ways. You keep reading as a way to make sure the kids are okay because somewhere after the first page, the kids found a way into your heart.

Salt is not a novel for everyone; the numerous mediocre reviews attest to that fact. For those who are willing to give it a chance, they will find a somewhat silly novel that is surprisingly endearing and extremely memorable. After all, it isn’t every day you read about a family of orphans who fight sea monsters who eat cats or pirates who steal everything they can without harming anyone.

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The Binding
The Binding by Bridget Collins is another unusual novel with a premise that most book lovers would find horrifying and utterly unimaginable. After all, in Ms. Collins’ world, books are not for reading but instead are objects of fear and loathing. It is a difficult premise to acknowledge, let alone accept. Difficult, that is, until you learn why the people in Ms. Collins’ world fear books and anyone having to do with them. Then the true horror fills you.

The Binding appeals to fans of historical fiction with its lush prose and exquisite details of a long-ago time and place. Ms. Collins makes it easy to imagine every aspect of Emmett’s life, from the manual effort it takes to run a farm to the simple chore of heating a house topped with thatch. At its heart, however, it is a fantasy novel, one in which books are nothing more than memories taken from desperate people, sometimes against their will, an idea that repulses and attracts the reader as much as it does Emmett.

The Binding is also something extra in that it is a novel that encourages tolerance and acceptance of all walks of life. It uses the power of books to teach such lessons, even while the story of stolen memories appears to be to its sole purpose. I was not expecting this important sideline story, but once it started to take shape, it impressed me with its fervency and openness, and it continues to impress me with the tenderness and care with which Ms. Collins approached such a topic.

I devoured The Binding with its story of magic and mystery, cruelty and love, power and submission. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this unusual story where books are objects to avoid, but what I discovered was a memorable, well-written story that ended too soon. I want to get to know more of Emmett’s world, and I want to learn more about bookbinding and the magic behind it. I can only hope Ms. Collins intends to write a sequel to this fascinating book so that I can continue to explore her fascinating world.

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Parable of the Sower

Even though the science fiction/fantasy genre is my favorite genre, I have never read a novel by Octavia E. Butler. I felt like I couldn’t call myself a true lover of the genre until I had done so. When broached to remedy that situation with a new release of Parable of the Sower by Grand Central Publishing, I jumped at the chance.

I am glad I read it, but I cannot say I loved it. Had there been no religious tones to it, no Earthseed, I suspect I would feel differently, for it is Lauren’s spiritual goals that set me on edge. I respect her belief system. The idea of God as Change is a compelling one, one that I keep mulling over in my head even though I long ago gave up believing any diety. It is her idea that there is literal heaven waiting for her believers, that her believers will populate the stars, where I dig in my heels. Sure, I doubt there is a soul on this planet who has not looked to the stars and envisioned living there someday, who does not believe that the future of our species requires space exploration and finding an inhabitable planet in a far-reaching galaxy. Yet to believe that your followers alone are to inherit that planet is both grandiose and egotistical, something Lauren is not. So yes, I found Earthseed to be a bit ludicrous and distracting.

I loved the dystopian aspect of the novel, however, and wish the entire story focused on that. The matter-of-fact manner in which Ms. Butler describes the rampant poverty, the crime, the desperation is chilling. Even more so is the idea that Lauren’s father is a few year’s older than my husband and that this entire novel occurs seven years from now. It takes no great stretch of anyone’s imagination to bridge those years and envision how such a fall in society can come to pass. Since Ms. Butler wrote this novel in the early 1990s, one could argue that the signs for what we are now experiencing have been around for decades if only we were looking for them and acknowledging them.

It is difficult to read any dystopian novel these days and not compare it to ones previously read. The trick with Parable of the Sower is to remember that it was among the first of its kind. While such emotionless talk of rape might not phase anyone today, back in 1993, it would have been a shock to the system. That a woman could write of such things and do so with no sense of fear or blame but as a genuine symptom of the fall of society would have been unfathomable, and therein lies Ms. Butler’s mastery. She created something no one could imagine, utterly different from the worlds of Orwell and Conrad, of Clarke and Asimov. She did so with nothing more than reading the news from around the world, honing in on specific stories, and letting her imagination answer the question, “What if?”.

I did not necessarily enjoy Parable of the Sower because too much of it is Lauren’s Earthseed, but I am glad I read it and got to experience this essential science fiction writer finally. I want to read more of her novels to find out what other worlds she shared with us. I know better than to read stories with religious overtones, so next time I’ll just stick with aliens.

The post Playing Catch-Up appeared first on That's What She Read.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 6 May 2019
2019-05-06 05:00 UTC by Michelle

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Button
Hosted by Kathryn from Book Date, “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind. Here is what I read the week ending 6 May 2019. To learn more about each book, click on the book cover!

For having started month-end close last week plus having spent Friday afternoon and night plus all day Sunday at a dance competition, I am quite pleased with my reading this week. I finished some old review copies that have been having out there. I read something by an author I should have read a long time before this. And I finally started two of my most anticipated books of the year with a third in the queue. Competition dance is now over, so I get my weekends back. Plus, it is my birthday this week, for which I am taking a vacation day to do whatever I want. I suspect it will be reading these books. And sleeping. And maybe finally finishing my audiobook.


FINISHED SINCE THE LAST UPDATE:

Foe Parable of the Sower Salt


CURRENT READ:

Under Currents Aurora Rising


CURRENT LISTEN:

The Book of Life


NEXT UP:

Finale


What are you reading?

The post It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 6 May 2019 appeared first on That's What She Read.

Sunday Reflections – 5 May 2019
2019-05-05 14:00 UTC by Michelle

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Happy Sunday!

Holly and I are spending the weekend at the final regional dance competition of the season. We have one more to go, nationals at the end of June, but our schedule should ease for the next few weeks as the dance year winds to a close. I, for one, am ready to put this entire season behind us. It took its toll on me this year, and I don’t know why.

Jim started the week on another business trip. He tends to send us pictures of puppies for sale but refuses to bring one back with him. Not only are Holly and I left by ourselves, but he makes it worse by teasing us with pictures of adorable floofiness. It is so unfair.

I ended up finishing April having read eleven books. It isn’t a record, but it is more than I read in February or in March, so it is a nice upward trend. With my weekends becoming freer and no major sports I like to watch, it should mean more available reading time. It is also hammock weather soon, which is always a great way to read and relax.

I hope everyone is having a lovely Sunday and wish everyone a peaceful, stress-free work week!

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Here are past posts from the last few weeks in case you missed them the first time:

The post Sunday Reflections – 5 May 2019 appeared first on That's What She Read.

Weekly Top Posts: 2019-05-05
2019-05-05 04:00 UTC

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Sky Without Stars
2019-05-01 05:00 UTC by Michelle

Sky Without Stars

Yes, Sky Without Stars is a retelling of Les Misérables set in space. Yes, it has your Jean Valjean, your Javert, your Marius, your Cosette, and your Eponine characters. Yes, it has an infamous criminal hiding from the police, a clueless adopted daughter, a member of the upper class questioning everything he knows about class, and a female street urchin caught up among all their stories.  But what starts as a retelling becomes so much more.

What it becomes is a reminder of the power of the printed word. It is a call to remember history as accurately as possible because when you forget the past, you allow those who have not to gain control over you. It is the ease with which the monied exploit the poor and the many ways those in the middle ignore the exploitation. It is another example of how often history repeats itself without proper education and diligence.

It is a story about resources – people, money, food, and natural – and the dangers of having too much or too little. It is the lengths people will go to survive when desperate. It is the relationships that bind us to one another, whether we want them to do so or not. It is about secrets and political machinations that run deeper than anyone knows and the dangers of uncovering such plots.

Lastly, it is a space opera. Set in a different universe, on a plant that never sees the light of a sun, the permanent darkness plays a significant role in the mood of the people and the tone of the novel. Survival on a planet with limited resources is an aspect of the story that did not exist in the original. Nor did space travel, computer systems, embedded technology, androids, and other space elements. These add their own twist to the novel that makes it even larger and more spectacular than Hugo’s masterpiece.

Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell do an excellent job taking Hugo’s story and making it their own. I like that they focus on the three younger characters rather than on the dynamic between hunter and hunted. I particularly like how they flesh out each of those characters, making them less insipid, more complex, more morally ambiguous, more human. I also enjoy how they downplayed the love story to focus on the political interplay. Best of all, by the time the novel ends, the story is heading in directions Hugo never went, making it original and providing enough unanswered questions to make anyone anticipate the sequel.

The post Sky Without Stars appeared first on That's What She Read.

Pissed-off women write the best stories
2019-04-30 05:00 UTC by Michelle

I might detest the current president, but I will be forever grateful for the fact that he angered so many authors, who then took that anger out in their writing because the end result is a plethora of excellent books that make me want to stand up and fight alongside my fellow women. These are just a few of the ones I read in recent months written by angry women that I found inspiring, compelling, and timely in their messaging.

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Crown of Feathers

First off, have you ever seen a more gorgeous cover? That phoenix is everything and a perfect indicator of what you will find between its pages. Fiery women unwilling to accept the status quo any longer, a secret society, magic, slaves, a class war, a former matriarchal society, politics, and phoenixes – Nick Pau Preto’s novel enflames a primal instinct to fight against injustice and arbitrary class and gender distinctions. Veronyka’s determination to become a phoenix rider makes you want to take up jousting, while her experiences have you crying out in anger and justice. Crown of Feathers is everything you want it to be after staring at its mesmerizing cover, and it is glorious. Long live women who never take no for an answer!

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The Women's War

A society in which women have no power and no rights is not so far in our past that the idea of such an environment still strikes fear into our hearts. After all, we are still fighting for birth control and abortion rights, and the #metoo movement shined a spotlight on the frequency of sexual assault and a society that blames victims more than it helps them. Now imagine what would happen if women had the ability to change such a society through one magic spell. How would men react? Jenna Glass explores this idea in The Women’s War.

While Crown of Feathers is much like the mythical beast on its cover – fiery and mesmerizing – The Women’s War is a much subtler story of female empowerment. In this world, women never had power, so they have no history to compel them to act. In truth, most women, and almost all men do not understand the ramifications of the spell until much later in the story, and it is the dawning awakening of the women and increasing indignation of the men which propels the story. The women in this story may not be fighters, but they manage to grasp the politics of the situation and maneuver themselves into positions of power – all while fighting male disdain, anger, and violence. Jenna Glass does not draw upon a primal instinct but rather uses everyday experiences to capture the impotence women feel when men argue away their rights, treat them as objects, and ignore their ideas. The end provides a completely different sense of satisfaction – quiet, less obvious, but there nonetheless.

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Sherwood

Meagan Spooner’s Robin Hood reimagining had me dropping everything to finish it. Sherwood has everything I love in a story – a kick-ass heroine who literally kicks ass, intrigue, fighting injustice, social commentary. It also has something I did not expect, something which kept me glued to the pages and wiping away tears on more than one occasion; it has heart.

The opening line tells you that it is not going to be a happy novel. After all, Robin of Locksley is dead, and Marion must find a way to live without his friendship, support, and love. I didn’t expect the clarity with which Ms. Spooner expressed Marion’s emotions. I gasped in pain at Marion’s anguish. I gnashed my teeth at her anger and frustration at the social mores which prevented her from acting in the manner she wanted. I held my breath at her fear. The story itself is fantastic in its reimagining, but it is the emotional aspect where the story shines. Sherwood left me an emotional wreck, and I loved every minute of it.

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Girls With Sharp Sticks

Suzanne Young always has compelling, twisty stories that are a marvel of creativity and social commentary, with heroines that question authority and the status quo, but her previous novels are not what I would call angry novels. Girls With Sharp Sticks most definitely is an angry novel, and it makes me love Ms. Young even more than I already did.

Girls With Sharp Sticks is an awakening of the best kind. It is an awareness of the characters, and of the reader, of the pervasiveness of rape culture and patriarchy bent on subjugating women. It starts and ends with Mena, a student at the prestigious Innovations Academy, who parrots the school philosophy like the mindless student she is until she realizes that something is not quite right with the philosophy she so admired. Meanwhile, you as the reader already know something is not right as your blood boils at everything Mena learns and accepts. Everything about Innovations Academy is slimy and wrong, and you want nothing more than to tear the wool off Mena’s eyes so that she can see the truth.

However, as Ms. Young is so wont to do, you care about Mena too much to be that cruel to her; having her face the truth all at once would be akin to telling a five-year-old that there is no Santa Claus with no warning and no suspicion on the child’s part. So you root for Mena’s every act of defiance, no matter how small, and cheer every discovery she makes. Except something happens as Mena makes each discovery. Mena gets angry. When Mena gets angry, the story changes completely. No longer is it a boarding school mystery. Instead, it becomes a bit of a revenge story wherein the rules you thought you knew do not apply, and all you can do is hold on for the ride as Mena and her friends go on a rampage for answers and justice.

Through Mena and Girls With Sharp Sticks, Ms. Young channels all the rage and terror you have ever felt at being told to be a good girl, that boys will be boys, at being ignored in the classroom or the conference room, for  being interrupted, for being called a bitch, for being told to smile, for being told to cover up, for being told you don’t cover up enough. She channels it for you and allows you some relief at watching Mena fight for all the times you couldn’t. It is every bit as empowering as the other angry novels, but it is also cathartic to watch the girls become aware and then take action. It might not be as easy in the real world to do something like what Mena and her friends do, but it certainly feels good to watch someone do something.

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The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe

Ally Condie does not strike me as an angry person. In fact, based on her social media postings, she seems perfectly lovely. With a gorgeous family and close-knit set of friends, her posts exude happiness. Something must have been bothering her while she was writing her latest novel, however, because it is the epitome of an angry novel.

The titular character of The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe is an unhappy woman. She loses her one love during a raid and funnels all her pain and rage about that loss into seeking revenge of the bloodiest, most brutal kind. Poe is extremely capable, intelligent, and crafty, and she doesn’t give a damn about anything. It is sort of awesome.

Wherein all the other novels on this list start with women who are not angry and become so as they understand hard truths, Poe’s story is one of reversal. Poe already understands the hard truths. Hers is a journey to remember her humanity. Poe reminds us there is a balance to working through your anger, that to let it consume you means the bad guys win. It is every bit as timely a message as is the messages to fight against the injustices of the world and is perhaps the most important message of all.

Unfortunately, The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe is the weakest of these angry novels. The fault lies not in the writing but in the lack of world-building. We have no frame of reference for the setting, no history to let us know if this is an alternate universe, the future, or a re-imagined past. There are clues, but the gaps are wide, requiring a bit too much imagination which then does not allow you to sink into the story as you should. The secondary characters are weak, providing inadequate support for Poe’s formidable character. The plot is simple, a bit too much soo, and while the action is hot and heavy, the lack of plot becomes obvious the further into the novel you go. It isn’t a bad novel, but when compared to the other angry author novels out there, it falls short.

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Angry women rule. More importantly, angry women will make the world a better place. It is possible to take your anger too far, to let it consume you to the point of irrationality, as we see with Poe, but for the most part, angry women find ways to achieve their goals no matter what it takes. They are fierce, clever, and ruthless when necessary. They are awake and aware. Best of all, angry women write some seriously amazing novels.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 29 April 2019
2019-04-29 05:00 UTC by Michelle

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Hosted by Kathryn from Book Date, “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind. Here is what I read the week ending 29 April 2019. To learn more about each book, click on the book cover!

Not having had to take Holly to dance for the last two weeks has been glorious. Not only did I get the chance to start a new cross-stitch project, but I was able to read and relax in a way that I have not wanted to do in many a month. It helped that the books I read were wonderful. Dance classes start again this week, month-end starts all over again on Wednesday, and Holly has one last dance competition starting on Friday. I will admit to being very nervous about this week, afraid that I will once again find myself overwhelmed to the point of incapacity. I don’t think that will happen, but there is a part of my mind that likens the last six months to a traumatic event and my fears to a mild form of PTSD. I know that seems ridiculous given that we are talking about work and my child’s activities, but I cannot ignore the feeling of dread I experience whenever I think back to that period. All I can do is enter this week working ahead as much as possible with a precise plan and the diligence to follow it. It will also help to have some good books to help take my mind off things during any downtime.


FINISHED SINCE THE LAST UPDATE:

The Binding The Last Marilla of Green Gables Wicked Saints


CURRENT READ:

Foe


CURRENT LISTEN:

The Book of Life


NEXT UP:

Parable of the Sower Under Currents


What are you reading?

The post It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 29 April 2019 appeared first on That's What She Read.

Sunday Reflections – 28 April 2019
2019-04-28 14:00 UTC by Michelle

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Happy Sunday!

It is another semi-free weekend for us; semi-free because while Holly and I do not have to spend it at a hotel and in a darkened theater, Holly still had dance rehearsals yesterday and again today. Jim has dance duty this weekend, which means I have been able to sit and relax as much as possible. It has been glorious.

The weather has not been quite as impressive. Yesterday, we were under a winter storm warning for a majority of the day, and yes, it did snow. This came after experiencing gorgeous spring weather for most of the work week. You know I enjoy the snow more than most people, but yesterday’s storm was a bit much for even me. I want to say that is the last of the winter storms, but I said that about the one we had two weeks ago so who knows? I don’t know anything anymore other than the weather most likely will not be what I expect it to be.

The rest of the week was uneventful. Work and school filled our days, and our evenings required some chauffeuring for make-up dance classes. My allergies kicked in, so I found myself trying to go to bed early for relief. I cooked for the first time in weeks, and we all tried to enjoy the downtime as much as possible.

I discovered that all eight seasons of Game of Thrones are available through On Demand, so Jim and I finally started to watch it. It hooked us immediately, as I suspected it would. Give me a well-told high fantasy story, and I am going to want to do nothing but watch it. At the same time, Holly and I have made zero progress on our Avengers movie project, so I am desperately trying to avoid Endgame spoilers. I have been attempting to avoid Infinity War spoilers for a year now with some success, so my hopes are high. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

With that, I am off to read, nap, and do whatever I want. I hope everyone is having a great weekend and wish you all a stress-free work week!

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Here are past posts from the last few weeks in case you missed them the first time:

The post Sunday Reflections – 28 April 2019 appeared first on That's What She Read.

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2019-04-28 04:00 UTC

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