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.

Find on Goodreads and Amazon. 

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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Venturess – By Betsy Cornwell

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Goodreads Synopsis: Nicolette’s Cinderella story is over, and she’s finally living her own fairy tale happy ending. She’s a successful inventor now, free of her horrible stepfamily, and content in her loving friendship with Caro, a palace servant, and Fin, the prince of Esting.

Then she receives a message from her long-lost housekeeper, now a revolutionary, begging her to bring the prince to Faerie for a diplomatic meeting. Nicolette fears a trap, but decides that the chance to end the bloody war waged by their kingdom is worth the risk.

Together with Fin and Caro, she ventures across the monster-filled ocean to the lush continent she’s always dreamed of visiting. There, mechanical armies and dark magic await as they uncover devastating secrets about the past and fight for a real, lasting happily-ever-after for two troubled countries—and themselves. 

Find on Goodreads and Amazon.

I was given a copy of this book by Tara in Digital Marketing and Publicity Specialist with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers. Which made me super excited because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to read it this soon!  I did a review of the first book in this series earlier in the year, Mechanica, you can find that post here.

Venturess is another fun adventure story from Betsy Cornwell.  Again I found that the writing was a little bit young for the intended genre. Most of the book I found that Nic, Fin and Caro sounded (and sometime acted) like they were closer to 12, than around 17 which is what I thought they were. I found that it made the book hard for me to read, I was a little bit bored I have to admit.  But the characters are still fantastic, and well developed. The plot is good as well. Just don’t go into reading this thinking that you’ll be able to relate to the trio as people on the verge of adulthood.

That said I still think the book was really great! I love the bisexual and polyamorous representation. I loved that Nic loves both Fin and Caro, equally and in different ways. It was also great because they all loved each other, but they never went beyond kissing and sleeping in the same bed. I thought it was great that Venturess doesn’t make sex out to be some huge life-altering deal. They loved each other, supported each other, and their friendship and love was so adorable.

I gave this book 3.5 stars on Goodreads.

 

 

The Goblins of Bellwater – By Molly Ringle

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Goodreads Synopsis: Most people have no idea goblins live in the woods around the small town of Bellwater, Washington. But some are about to find out.

Skye, a young barista and artist, falls victim to a goblin curse in the forest one winter night, rendering her depressed and silenced, unable to speak of what happened. Her older sister, Livy, is at wit’s end trying to understand what’s wrong with her. Local mechanic Kit would know, but he doesn’t talk of such things: he’s the human liaison for the goblin tribe, a job he keeps secret and never wanted, thrust on him by an ancient family contract.

Unaware of what’s happened to Skye, Kit starts dating Livy, trying to keep it casual to protect her from the attention of the goblins. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Kit, Skye draws his cousin Grady into the spell through an enchanted kiss in the woods, dooming Grady and Skye both to become goblins and disappear from humankind forever.

It’s a midwinter night’s enchantment as Livy, the only one untainted by a spell, sets out to save them on a dangerous magical path of her own.

Find on Goodreads and Amazon.

I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book took me a little bit to get into, the first 15% was hard to be interested in. We’re introduced to Kit, the liaison between humans and goblins.  I didn’t find him a very interested character until after he meets and starts interacting with Livy, whose character I did really enjoy.  It’s amusing to me that although Kit starts off as the main character, it’s really Livy who ends up saving the day.  Kit himself is rather plain, he’s your average guy who happens to have a weird job. Because he was so average I found him dull.  I found Livy to be an interesting character because of her love for her sister Skye.  Their connection and bond was really well written.  Skye herself spends a lot of the book not actually talking, she was more of a minor character. Same with Grady. The two of them were okay, but nothing super special.

The Goblins of Bellwater is well written, I always had a really clear mental image of what was going on because of the great descriptions. The book made me hungry several times because of the food that Grady cooks.

Overall I didn’t find the book spectacular. It was a little cliche at the end, and I felt like the stakes weren’t quite as high as they could have been. Or maybe it was that they weren’t believable enough. It’s just that I never worried that Livy wasn’t going to save the day and her sister. I knew she would and so I found myself a tad bit bored.

But that said I did enjoy a good quantity of the book. I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads.

 

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?
 

Find on Goodreads and Amazon.

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.

V For Vendetta By Alan Moore

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Goodreads Synopsis: “Remember, remember the fifth of November…”

A frightening and powerful tale of the loss of freedom and identity in a chillingly believable totalitarian world, V for Vendetta stands as one of the highest achievements of the comics medium and a defining work for creators Alan Moore and David Lloyd.

Set in an imagined future England that has given itself over to fascism, this groundbreaking story captures both the suffocating nature of life in an authoritarian police state and the redemptive power of the human spirit which rebels against it. Crafted with sterling clarity and intelligence, V for Vendetta brings an unequaled depth of characterization and verisimilitude to its unflinching account of oppression and resistance. 

Find on Goodreads and Amazon.

I first watched the movie a couple years ago, and finally decided to read the comic just this month.

V For Vendetta really wasn’t my favorite. I found that I really disliked the art style, it was very boring and at times I got confused as to which character was which because they all looked so similar. The style looks a lot like the way the art was done in really old comics. The only positive thing I could think about it was “At least it’s in color!”

I also found that I didn’t like the main character. V himself, though his ideals and his fight against fascism is amazing, was a very manipulative and abusive man. I see no reason whatsoever that he needed to torture Evie. It really upset me that he decided to do this to her, when there are so many other ways to open up someone’s eyes. Speaking of Evie…Ugh I found her hopelessly boring. Her character felt so flat and she honestly seemed more like a prop than an actual character.

I know this comic was trying to make a lot of good points about the world, but good entions weren’t enough to get me to like the story or care about what was happening. I didn’t hate the story, and I understand why a lot of people like it. It just wasn’t for me I guess.

I gave V for Vendetta 3 stars on Goodreads.

Stone Butch Blues – By Leslie Feinberg

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Goodreads Synopsis: Woman or man? This internationally acclaimed novel looks at the world through the eyes of Jess Goldberg, a masculine girl growing up in the “Ozzie and Harriet” McCarthy era and coming out as a young butch lesbian in the pre-Stonewall gay drag bars of a blue-collar town. Stone Butch Blues traces a propulsive journey, powerfully evoking history and politics while portraying an extraordinary protagonist full of longing, vulnerability, and working-class grit. This once-underground classic takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride of gender transformation and exploration and ultimately speaks to the heart of anyone who has ever suffered or gloried in being different.

Find on Goodreads and Amazon. 

I read this book at the recommendation of a friend, and I am so glad that I decided to take her up on it.

Stone Butch Blues is probably one of the best books I’ve read all year. I’ve been trying to write this review all week, but it’s been really hard because I’m not sure how to sum it all up. This book really brought home to me how much the queer community has been through. I haven’t really known a lot about our history, though I’m trying to read more about it, and this book was very educational in that subject.

Stone Butch Blues will break your heart, just a fair warning. The amount of hardship that Jess goes through is just astounding, and at the end of the day she makes it through it.  I found myself crying throughout the entire read. Also trigger warning, this book deals with rape and abuse a lot.

Even if you’re not apart of the LGBTQA+ community I highly suggest reading this book. There’s so much of queer history that isn’t talked about, that we don’t know. And this book will begin to show what it was like to not be straight in the 50’s.

When I look at the world today it’s easy to get discouraged. But Stone Butch Blues gave me hope.  The queer community has come a long way, we’ve survived a lot. And we will continue to survive. Someday we’ll make the world a better place, where no one has to fear coming out, or loving whom they love.

I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads.