Latest Entries »

Ten Days in a Mad-House

by Nellie Bly

readingwomenreadingchallenge prompt 18: Under 100 pages

What a very weird little book. What I found really scary was how easy it was to be considered insane in the late 1800s. Nellie barely does anything and is whisked off as insane. Hw terrifying it must have been for people, but I suspect women really, in those days. Step even one inch out of line and into an asylum you go.
and then the asylum conditions – too often the fact that people in mental health institutions were treated so terribly is portrayed for it not to be completely true. I fear that many are not that different nowadays in some places.
very disturbing

readingwomenreadingchallenge prompt 8: An anthology with numerous authors

Interesting collection from a wide variety of personalities involved in the porn industry.
I really liked the range of people included in the book as it yet again shows that stereotyping is stupid.

The contributors were raw, honest, open and forthright. Interesting people following their own paths, proudly.
What’s not to love and respect?

Breasts and Eggs

by Mieko Kawakami

I find works translated from Japanese very weird but strangely addictive and enjoyable.
But mostly weird. The characters seems so childish often that I have to wonder if it is a question of translation or language or if this is actually how the characters are portrayed in Japanese writing.
I also find the odd details very peculiar. Seemingly random info is included – …I w0ke up and realised I had been sick for about a week and my phone was not on charge and there was 13% left on the battery….. like so what? why the 13% detail? it made no difference to the story at all. A dead phone is a moment, a phone full charged when you have been sick for a week is a moment – but 13% is random and irrelevant.
That being said there are also so weirdly perfect randomness. ‘….he suit made him look like an old police chief…’ That perfectly creates the crumpled image the author was going for.

This book is ultimately very beautiful despite all the moments of huh. This book is about three women but it is also about women and womenhood. Because I heard about the book from the Reading Women podcast I had heard conversation about how very restrictive life in Japan for women. Being aware of that made the commentary about repression, control over reproduction, men’s and society’s expectations of women easier to understand. I must say that I thought Japan much more progressive than it seems it is.

I did cringe when being cis was described as ‘normal’ and felt that that was unnecessary. The book is so about female body biology and how society reacts to the workings thereof that that could have just not been included.

Interesting, peculiar, anything but sparse, seemingly random at times with odd meanders into what felt like lectures – I am really not even sure what I think of this book
Kind of how I feel after reading any Japanese authors I have tried.
And try I will continue because there is something about them I really like while being totally puzzled.

A New Lease of Death

by Ruth Rendell

popsugarreadingchallenge prompt 49: From a series with more than 20 books.

I LOVE Rendell as Barbara Vine but remember now why I stopped reading the Wexford series by her as Rendell.
I can’t see past the 1960’s sexist rubbish to enjoy the crime story. The characters make me so angry, especially Wexford, that I get too lost to appreciate Rendell’s smart twists and turns.

I will stick to her later stuff

by Therese Anne Fowler

popsugarreadingchallenge prompt 44: set in the 1920s

I knew very little about either Fitzgerald. I have never read Zelda’s more famous husband and didn’t even consider that there was a wife.
All of that being said, I really enjoyed this book and have found myself interested in all of the characters, their relationships and the whole period of history. So job well done Fowler.
The author has explained that while this is a novel it is very closely based on research of the lives of the Fitzgerald’s and the others in their social circle.

I really enjoyed the depth Fowler gives Zelda. This truly is her story within what must have been a flurry of social sycophancy around the artists of the day. How women survived the expectations on them in the 1920s without stabbing a man is beyond me.
I love the feistiness of Zelda and was saddened by how it was controlled, oppressed and denied. I do wonder who she would have been had she been born a century later.

I enjoyed this enough to want to investigate both the author and the subject matter further.

by Maya Angelou

popsugarreadingchallenge prompt 39 a banned book read in banned book week

Every time I experience Angelou I fall in love all over again. I also cry, rage, gasp and laugh.
And I am always, but always, moved.
This, the first in her series of autobiographies tells the story of the child-Maya. How she turned out the way she did is testament to all sorts of strength the young, tall, skinny girl version of her had deep within herself.
I have to read the rest of the series because I am now invested in discovering how to become so much the best possible version of oneself.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by the author and I feel privileged to have heard her tell the start of her story.
I feel a bit bereft now though having finished it. The world feels too silent without her voice in it.

by Kate Bornstein

prompt 48: published in the 20th century

It was quite interesting reading a book about gender that was written so long ago. Language has changed and t hear words used then but no longer considered appropriate, fair or desirable was odd. There were moments when I felt ‘aha’ there were also moments when I squinted my eyes and thought ‘really?’
I am cishet though so I don’t think I have a right to comment on her use of language and concepts – I just felt uncomfortable with some of her phrases, ideas and beliefs in a way that I don’t with the concepts for gender now. I don’t think I will ever be able to hear the word ‘tranny’ and not cringe for the 90’s.
I just found it dd that while she was speaking of the huge range of gender possibilities she also seemed to be categorising people quite strictly. ‘We do this’, ‘they do that’ etc. I struggle with the idea of anyone saying that any group, even if they belong to it, is one thing or another.
So yeah – interesting but problematic in 2020 the way it probably was not in the ’90s. And this is something the early gender warriors face all the time too – the way they fought is no longer deemed appropriate – but without their fight, the present would not exist.
So I do not want to bash Bornstein but rather used this text as a way to see how much the language has changed, but sadly, often, not the attitudes of individuals.
Let’s hope that anything written now seems as odd in 20 or 30 years as this does now – because society has grown up and moved on from its obsession with gender and the rules it imposes based on some binary bs.

by Helen Keller

#popsugarreadingchallenge prompt 43: character with impaired vision

I found this memoir well worth reading.
I knew a little of her story; Sullivan, water, deaf and blind – that was about it. Keller was a much more accomplished person than I realised. Her interaction with and grasp of life, literature and beauty would have been pretty extraordinary for someone with sight and hearing.
I am quite awed and so glad I found this book.

Artificial Condition

by Martha Wells

#ppsugarreadingchallenge prompt 28: with a robot, cyborg or AI character
I read the first on this series for a prompt last year and was very glad to remember it and read the next installment.
This Murderbot is so likable once again I am sorry it is both fictional and not human.
In this book it sets off to discover exactly what happened in the previous book when it was deemed responsible for a terrible massacre of humans. With the help of ART, a Research Transport vessel Murderbot sets off to find out what really happened.

I love the humanity that is slowly developing in this murderbot. it is very moving when it says that the more human-like it look the harder it becomes to remember it is not.
Poor chap – it’ll break your heart even though it is a machine.

I’m going to have to read the next book in this series sooner rather than later. I need to know what it will do with the knowledge it gains

by Kate Anderson Brower

#popsugarreadingchallenge prompt 30: about a world leader
I found this book very interesting and hugely accessible. It was fascinating to read of the relationships the five former presidents had, as well as those between the first ladies.
How very different the Trumps are was glaringly obvious and the former five’s opinions quite clear.
This book certainly fleshed out the first families into whole people with lives before and after office.
I’m not even American or particularly political and I really enjoyed this book.
I did the audio book and found the narrator pleasing and easy to listen to.