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by Ibram X. Kendi

#popsugarreadingchallenge prompt 10: recommended

This book knocked me on my ass, punched me in the gut and made me shake my head and wipe my eyes.
It is amazing and should be compulsory reading. ANYONE who harbours even a single racist thought after this book barely deserves to be called human

What the hell white people – just what the actual hell?

by Sarah Gailey

#popsugarreadingchallenge prompt 37: A western

I read this book only because I needed to read a western and needed an author who was not a white man – essentially. And then when I started reading I thought ‘wait, I recognise this voice’ so I checked My Books out and realised I already love Gailey.
So it was like finding a treat where it was least expected. Cos let’s be honest, i had zero desire to read about cowboys and beans cooked on an open fire. and I don’t care enough to read more modern man-written westerns to find out if my preconceived ideas are wrong.

But on to this fabulous little book. I love how Gailey has alternate lifestyles and choices simply as how things are – no fuss no fanfare. Characters are allowed to be whomever they wish, to love whomever they wish and to use the pronouns that make sense to them. Just to be themselves, all within the story.

This story is set in the just now future and Esther escapes an arranged marriage after having to witness the public hanging of her female lover. She hides in the wagon of the Librarians, the crew of women who wander around disseminating the approved reading material.
Only of course that is not what they are really doing or who they really are. These queer women are fighting fascism and restrictions while pretending to be all sorts of approved things.
I just loved the Librarians and Esther’s slow realization of where she has actually landed up.

Please let there be this group of badass women when society goes to shit. We will need them.

Another Gailey wonder. Yay and thanks

The Subtweet

by Vivek Shraya

#readingwomenreadingchallenge prompt 23: book by an LGBTQ+ author

A tricky book to review because this book is about so much I know nothing about. It is set in the world of creating music and the power of Twitter – neither of which I know anything about really. I mean, I know what music and twitter are, obviously, but I use neither.
In addition, I am cis, white, African and in my 50s. Nothing like the characters of the book who are brown, young, South East Asian/Canadian, and one is trans.
Which is exactly why I am glad I read this book. All of the settings differ so vastly from mine but the themes of friendship and f**king up, of loving and hurting the same person (sometimes at the same time), of regret and remorse – these are all familiar to me. These are shared processes we all go through and the very familiarity of them was more profound because the characters are so different from me.
And because I was aware of how similar these things were, the bits that were so very different were starker and more obvious. The references to the nature of their relationships as brown women made me stop and think about how I assume its all the same; that friendship is friendship. Being brown women in the creative world is also so far out of my realm of experience I struggled to understand some of what they were experiencing. But I stopped and thought about it.

Of course, now of this introspection and pondering is necessary to enjoy the book but for me it made it richer and more valuable. And I am grateful for the learning opportunity.

I miss Neela and Rukmini, I rage for them and hope they are doing okay now.

A beautiful book that will make you aware of and value your relationships and those of others.

by Joyce Carol Oates (Editor

#popsugarreadingchallenge prompt 11: Anthology
What a marvelous collection of shorts stories. The first few had my mouth agape, literally saying ‘wow’ outloud.
All of them were worth the time but of course, as with any anthology there will be some stories that work better for some readers than others.

Women writers writing about strong, stroppy and/or murderous female characters with scary noir stuff thrown in – what’s not to love???

The Mandibles

by Lionel Shriver

#readingwomenreadingchallenge prompt #22 a new or familiar publisher

It would seem I read quite a lot published by Harper – not that I even noticed.

This is an odd and powerful book. Biting social commentary in which a frightening but hugely likely future exists and is, in fact, the past of the book.

The Mandible family go from ridiculous wealth to homeslessness when the American currency crashes. I wish this book didn’t seem to very likely. But in 2020 it seems anything is possible.

There is a lot of stage setting in this story, more than once. It does make it feel a little like an economics lecture at time, but it is also necessary to understand the assumptions upon which the narrative is based.

This book is witty and populated with a range of characters, all of whom have depth. She is scathing and her ironic satire is fabulous.

Another great Shiver.

by Eimear McBride

#popsugarreadingchallenge prompt 25: a book with only words on the cover

For some reason this book is on the Popsugar list as a book with a made up language. It does not have a made up language at all so I had to reallocate it within the challenge. Annoying in principle but I’m okay with it only because I really enjoyed this book.

It is a weird book, and was such a rollercoaster that at times I felt white-knuckled and at others I felt gently carried along until the next major upset.

The almost stream of consciousnesses writing works very well in this book. I think it could very easily have devolved into noise and nonsense but it never did. It often felt like flowing prose, a series of waves and crashes it was impossible to escape.

I absolutely loved this book and found the clash between method and content outstanding. Brutality, cruelness, death, rape, disrespect, and general awfulness shared with such beautiful words and in such an outstanding method.

simply stunning

by Nnedi Okorafor

#readingwomenreadingchallenge prompt 7: a book featuring afrofuturism or africanfuturism

Not my best I am sad to say. I was really wanting to love this book but I just didn’t.
I really liked the fact that it so celebrated Africanism. I loved that Binti’s origins and culture were not only explicit but actually intrinsic and essential. We need more stories that do this.

But I found this book thin and the plot often unbelievable. The wonderful foundations established at the start landed up, for me, being used to support a very flimsy, rushed narrative.

yeah – just not for me

by Christy Lefteri

#Readingwomanreadingchallenge prompt16: Featuring a woman with a disability

For some reason I cannot fathom I had to try this book twice to enjoy it. I am unable to comprehend why I missed the mark with it the first time I tried it- it is such a beautiful book how anyone could not enjoy it is beyond me.

So I am hugely grateful that I tried again. Sometimes the timing is wrong as opposed ot the book or the reader being wrong.

This book, while fiction, tells the story of so many refugees. People struggling with trauma as they desperately search for a home and a possible future.

Nuri and Afra escape from Syria and make their way across Europe to England. Their journey is hard on so many levels, and made harder by blindness. Afra’s actual blindness and Nuri’s emotional blindness. While she sees nothing he sees things and people who are not there as he flounders in his own pain.

But under it all is the obvious love these two have for each other. I particularly liked this sub-plot. Too often Muslim marriages are portrayed as arranged and unpleasant. To have a couple so tender with each other, so caring, so loving was beautiful to read. Nori is a good man doing what he can with what he has.

The real beauty of this book is how cleanly and simply it is told. The story itself is trusted to be worth enough and strong enough to simply be told. There is no fancy literary footwork – just an exquisite story told in a way that will break your heart. mend it and then break it again.

This book will live with me for a long time.

 

A Children’s Bible

by Lydia Millet

#popsugarreadingchallenge prompt 1: published in 2020

What a very odd book that I could not stop listening to. The slide of the two sets of characters from the start of the book to the end is fantastical and also so very believable – for the most part.
The kids are super mature but then they do have rather odd lives, even at the start of the story. The adults are deeply immature and I did struggle a little with their lack of regard for their kids at the start.
As a post climate change, post collapse of capitalism post the crumbling of society this book is very gripping and quite scary. And under all of that is hope in the younger generation – however they do it, survive they shall.

As an audiobook this fell a little short because the narrator seemed bored throughout. But that is no fault of the book at all.
Millet will certainly be on my radar from now on – I want to see what else she has done.

by Sayantani DasGupta

#readingwomenreadingchallenge prompt : inspired by folklore

I really quite liked this middle grade fantasy story with all of its lovely references to Indian folklore. The story is simple enough, as is expected at this level I would think. But it was also fun and engaging.I really liked the bit at the end where all the folklore references are mentioned – it made the whole book much richer. I do wonder if all that information may have been more valuable as a foreward rather than an afterward. But that may be because I am an adult.

I am certainly quite interested in exploring more Bengali folklore – I want to know the whole story of so many of the characters in this book.

Most kids would love this and a good few adults I know too.