Monday, March 30, 2015

She Don't Need No Stinking Man

Release Date: 5/5/15
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

First, thank you to HarperCollins Publishers for providing an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I'm excited to say that this is the first book I've requested and that I received it and now I get to review it before it releases. Too often, I put books on the back burner and don't get a chance to read them until much later. I knew I wanted this one, though, after Cruel Beauty which I read last year. I actually paid for that one on my Kindle (as opposed to getting it from the library) because I started the sample and was so sucked in. So, here are my lists for what I did and didn't love so you can be so excited to read this yourself when it comes out in a month. (Also, I linked to GoodReads instead of Amazon in the title since it hasn't released any way.)

What I loved:
  • The world building. Hodge is fantastic at this. You forget about your own world and are brought into a new place where new rules exist. Never been to the Great Forest, read this book and you will bring it home with you.
  • The characters. I love all of them. Everyone. Even the villains. No one was perfect and that itself was perfect. I think my favorite was Amélie. Maybe, if I really needed to pick for some reason.
  • The women. They are the heroes of the story. It's a women's story, without ever man-bashing which is awesome.
  • The blend of supernatural with the real world. I like having a foot in the real world when I read stories of people with supernatural abilities.
  • The ending. Everything is wrapped up in one way or another. Man, I love closure. That being said, there's enough leeway left to where a sequel would be possible/I can imagine the characters' lives after the book's ending. So, Hodge, if you want to write another, I'll read it!

What I Didn't Love:
  • Talking in circles. I felt like there were times when there was more writing than was necessary. A little repetitive at times.
  • Third person voice. I just hate it all the time, nothing really to do with the book, but letting future readers know that it's written this way.
  • Didn't live up to Cruel Beauty. Then again, that was a phenomenal, world shaking, mind blowing book based on my all time favorite story so it's acceptable that not everything from this author would fall into the same category.
  • Little Red Riding Hood? Maybe not so much. I can kind of see it *very* loosely based on the tale, but most of it is pure imagination from Hodge or borrowing from other ideas (especially religion). I think it maybe marketing should focus more on what a twist it is than saying it's really a retelling?
  • I'm not sure if it fits here exactly, but this was a very, very dark tale. Not that I minded, but it did catch me off guard at times, and I thought I should throw it out there in case anyone is squeamish.

Either way, if you liked Cruel Beauty, you'll very likely enjoy this one because the world building is still present, the strong heroine is here, and the love of all characters is here.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Feminist Reading Challenge

People told me so many times, “Having a child will change you.” “It'll change your whole life and who you are.” And I think that in some ways this is both true and not true. Having T has brought out the somewhat dormant interests in me and has made them full blown passions. The biggest one is my feminist side. I want my daughter to be raised knowing she can be anything and anyone. She can do any job she wants, she can help anyone she wants, she can love anyone she wants. I want to know that men and women are equal, or would be in the ideal world. As far as our home life goes, I think we do a pretty good job of demonstrating this balance. We both work, we both clean and J is trying so hard to learn to cook (well, I'm still learning too so I guess she'll grow up knowing neither of us can cook).

This has been translated into my reading as well, as so many aspects of my life often are. I tend to go through ups and downs with my reading habits and tend to burn myself out on a genre and then have to make a dramatic shift. Something I've started lately is asking myself, “Would I want my daughter to read this?” Not in a “is this appropriate for a child?” way (because I'm an adult and am capable of reading foul language, and about sex and drugs and don't care if she does when she's much older) but in a “Is there a strong female role model in this book?” way.

Because I'm also working toward my teaching license for elementary school, I apply the same concept to kids' books I've been reading. “Would I want my students to read this? Would they learn to treat one another better and more equally from this?” Maybe this is too much thinking about the purpose of a book, but I'm tired of books with weak women. I'm tired of all the male writers (though it's not their fault), and I'm tired of stereotypical women.

So my new challenge? I have been reading a lot more kids books (and really enjoying them!) and some teen as well (and there are some awesome feminist teen books that I should write a post about at some point). But my “thing” if you will, right now is about graphic novels. I am such a huge Batman fan. Well, I love the other characters from Batman more than Batman himself if I'm honest (Nightwing, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and lately the Birds of Prey). But I've also noticed that when I read these graphic novels, specifically from DC, I only see male names for the writers. The last time I looked it up, there was exactly one female writer on staff for DC. One. Supposedly they are working toward being more diverse and will soon have six female writers. Yes, you read that right, six would be a step in the right direction for them.

So I thought, “I think I need to actively look for more women in comics.” So that's what I'm doing. And I am truly loving what I'm finding (when I find things). Currently, I'm reading the new Ms. Marvel, written by G. Willow Wilson (after a little research, I found this is a female writer). I have also started accumulating a stack of books from the library. Damn them and their bad ass collection of graphic novels and their easy hold system (request on the computer, get an email, it's right there waiting for you!). Next up on the list are Rat Queens, Y: The Last Man, Saga, and Earth's Mightiest Hero: Captain Marvel. The criteria for what I'm looking for are either comics written by women or ones that can be written by a man but feature a bad ass woman (more points if she's not drawn as a stereotypical comic lady). Once I read a few, I'm sure I'll write another post about some awesome (and perhaps not awesome if I come across them) graphic novels that fit these criteria.

Any suggestions for what else I should read? Looking for teen, kids or graphic novels!

And may we read about them.