Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity – By Julia Serano

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Goodreads Synopsis: A provocative manifesto, Whipping Girl tells the powerful story of Julia Serano, a transsexual woman whose supremely intelligent writing reflects her diverse background as a lesbian transgender activist and professional biologist. Serano shares her experiences and observations—both pre- and post-transition—to reveal the ways in which fear, suspicion, and dismissiveness toward femininity shape our societal attitudes toward trans women, as well as gender and sexuality as a whole.

Serano’s well-honed arguments stem from her ability to bridge the gap between the often-disparate biological and social perspectives on gender. She exposes how deep-rooted the cultural belief is that femininity is frivolous, weak, and passive, and how this “feminine” weakness exists only to attract and appease male desire.

In addition to debunking popular misconceptions about transsexuality, Serano makes the case that today’s feminists and transgender activist must work to embrace and empower femininity—in all of its wondrous forms.

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After reading Stone Butch Blues I’ve decided I really want to read more educational books about the LGBTQA+ community.  This book came recommended to me by an acquaintance and I’m really glad I read it.  Which by the way, if you have any recommendations for me in this area please leave them in the comments!

But back to my review. Whipping Girl is a really interesting read, and Julia Serano makes a lot of really great points.  I found myself feeling really sad as I read some parts. I find it so frustrating that even in the queer community we are trying to push trans people away. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

I think this is a really good book for all people in the queer community to read, it’s very eye-opening.  The book shows you clearly what it’s like to be a trans woman and all that they face. It also has some really good ideas on how to improve things in the queer community.

My one complaint with this book was it felt a little bit repetitive towards the end, I felt like it could have been even 50 pages shorter. But that’s my preference and I know that the author had a lot of good things to say, and honestly what would I have wanted her not to say? I’m not sure. Either way it’s a good read.

I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

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The Memory Trees By Kali Wallace

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Goodreads Synopsis: Sorrow Lovegood’s life has been shaped by the stories of the women who came before her: brave, resilient women who settled long ago on a mercurial apple orchard in Vermont. The land has been passed down through generations, and Sorrow and her family take pride in its strange history. Their offbeat habits may be ridiculed by other townspeople—especially their neighbors, the Abrams family—but for the first eight years of her life, the orchard is Sorrow’s whole world.
Then one winter night everything changes. Sorrow’s sister Patience is tragically killed. Their mother suffers a mental breakdown. Sorrow is sent to live with her dad in Miami, away from the only home she’s ever known.
Now sixteen, Sorrow’s memories of her life in Vermont are maddeningly hazy; even the details of her sister’s death are unclear. She returns to the orchard for the summer, determined to learn more about her troubled childhood and the family she left eight years ago. Why has her mother kept her distance over the years? What actually happened the night Patience died? Is the orchard trying to tell her something, or is she just imagining things?
 

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I got this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

The Memory Trees took me a little while to get into, the story starts off slow and it’s not until Sorrow makes into her mother’s farm and orchard that it picks up.  But that’s not to say that the story isn’t well written, it is very much so. The prose has a very lyrical feel to it. And honestly reading this book during fall was a great idea because it feels very fall-like.

I felt very connected to the characters and to the orchard (which can practically be considered a character of its own), Sorrow’s story never felt angsty. And I thought her reactions and even her outbursts were realistic.  Sometimes authors don’t write scenes between angry children and parents very well, and it’s just makes me frustrated with everyone. I didn’t feel this way with The Memory Trees, I always felt like Sorrow was justified and not just being a brat.

The ending was both surprising and predictable at the same time. By the last fourth of the story I knew who had caused the fire, but I didn’t know why. There was enough to keep me guessing even when I knew parts of the answers.

Overall I enjoyed the story. I found it to be interesting, moving and well written. I gave it four stars on Goodreads.

Lilith’s Brood – By Octavia E. Butler

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Goodreads Synopsis: Lilith Iyapo is in the Andes, mourning the death of her family, when war destroys Earth. Centuries later, she is resurrected — by miraculously powerful unearthly beings, the Oankali. Driven by an irresistible need to heal others, the Oankali are rescuing our dying planet by merging genetically with mankind. But Lilith and all humanity must now share the world with uncanny, unimaginably alien creatures: their own children. This is their story…

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I originally got this book from my library thinking it was just the first book in Butler’s trilogy. It turned out to be all three books in one! It was quite a daunting read. 😀

Lilith’s Brood is 746 pages long, and so I’m finding this review a little hard to write. There’s just so much that happens in the stories.  What I can say is I definitely recommend this book to people.

Butler takes a very unique approach to the idea of an alien invasion of earth. The story is far more realistic than any other I have read in this genre.  In her story she makes neither the aliens, nor the humans inherently bad. Throughout the story you come to see both sides of their stories. At times you feel for the aliens and hate the humans, others you hate the aliens and feel for the humans.  And throughout it all you realize how complicated a situation it is. I really enjoyed this.

If I were to give one piece of advice for reading this series, it would be to not make the mistake I did and get all three books in one. I would suggest to read them individually, and to take your time with them. I found by the third book that the story was a little repetitive, but I honestly feel that was due to having read them back to back.

I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue – By Mackenzie Lee

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Goodreads Synopsis: Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores. 

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I really wanted to get a copy of this book, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to buy it. Thankfully I got a copy in one of my OwlCrate boxes!  Also I have to say, I like the cover for the OwlCrate box way better than the original cover.

It was hard not to have high hopes for this book, it is Historical Fiction (my favorite genre) and has a male bisexual main character.  And let me say, this book does not disappoint.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is such a fun read. From the very beginning I fell in love with the main character Monty. He’s selfish, but he’s always amusing, and relatable.  The secondary characters are also great. Monty’s sister is brilliant, she’s kickass and I can’t wait to read Lee’s book about her.  Monty’s crush Percy is selfless and practically Monty’s opposite in every way, but he doesn’t come off as know-it-all.  I shipped Percy and Monty so hard. 😀

At times I thought I was able to predict where the plot was going, but I was usually surprised. Which is awesome for me, I really like it when I’m surprised, it keeps me interested.

I don’t want to give too much away for this story. I just want to say that you should definitely read it.  I gave it four stars on Goodreads and I will probably be rereading this book sometime next year.

Maud: The Life of L.M. Montgomery – By Harry Bruce

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Goodreads Synopsis: Like her beloved character Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery spent her childhood a rural farmhouse. Born November 30, 1874, and raised by strict, elderly guardians, Maud had an early life full of loneliness and struggle; however, she had a secret dream: to become a writer.

As a teenager I devoured books by L. M. Montgomery, from Anne of Green Gables to collections of short stories, I loved them all.

This book is a fast read. At 176 pages it feels more like a summary of her life, than an in depth biography. But still the insight into Montgomery was interesting, and I enjoyed reading it. I came away wanting to read and know more about her.

Montgomery had an interesting life, and a hard life. She lived with her grandparents, and lost her mother at a young age, and her father gave custody of her over to family. I really was inspired by how hard she worked to become a writer. She worked her way through school, and even worked as a newspaper woman in an age where women didn’t often do those things. She married late in life, but she also had a whirlwind of romances with various young men. Montgomery seems like the type of woman with whom it would be easy to be friends with.

In the end I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

The Diviners – By Libbra Bray

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Goodreads Synopsis: Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

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There is so much hype for this book, I honestly wasn’t sure what I was getting into.

The Diviners starts out really well, the setup for the main plot is spooky and forces you to keep reading the next page.  Then you get to the main story, and the world-building is amazing.  Every time I picked up this book I felt like I had been whisked away to the 1920’s and it was magical. This book really gave me a love for the time period.  The slang, the descriptions of clothes and drinks, everything was so well done. I also liked that this book didn’t brush over the racism and sexism of the time.

The characters are really great as well. When I was reading reviews for the book I saw that a lot of people didn’t really like Evie, but I loved her.  She can be selfish a lot, but I felt that flaw made her real.  I loved her zest for life, her love of partying and having a good time. I felt like a lot of people in the book wanted to change that part of her, but I wasn’t sure I wanted her to change. Though of course I did like that she came to terms with how selfish she was, and wanted to make a change for the better.

Mabel, was a pretty great character for the most part. I liked her backstory of coming from a family that cared more about rallies and ideals than her, it made me sympathize a lot with her.  There were sometimes however that I thought she was boring as hell. She really needed to relax more and have fun with Evie.  I loved Theta’s character, I wanted to hear more of her story. Maybe she’ll play a bigger part in the second book?  Jericho was super boring, it felt like he did nothing the entire time.  Sam also felt like he only came in and out of the story when he was needed. Memphis was the only male character that actually felt real, and I can’t wait to see what happens with him in the next book.

There were some things I did dislike.  The romance between Evie and Jericho felt like it came out of nowhere. Not only was it rude of Evie to start up things with him, considering she knew how much Mabel liked him. But also Evie and Jericho had zero chemistry, it felt so forced. I honestly didn’t think a love interest had to be included, and I was disappointed when it was. Though Evie and Theta could have made an adorable couple.

Towards the end I started to feel like the book was a little long, and I just wanted to get to the conclusion.  The Diviners definitely could have been a 100 pages shorter. Also once I got to the ending, I felt like it was a little too easy for them.  It’s one those ending where I’m really not sure how to feel about it.

That all said I gave The Diviners four stars on Goodreads and I already have the second book ready and waiting for me to read it.