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White, yellow and red book cover of Kameron Hurley's The Geek Feminist Revolution featuring an illustration of a llama


It's the start of July. I am trying to review Kameron Hurley's essay collection, The Geek Feminist Revolution. In my wisdom, I have decided an analysis of her essay, "I'll Make The Pancakes: On Opting In And Out of the Writing Game", would make a great entry point for my review. I reread it to remind myself of the piece's fundamental points:

The more women writers I read, from Margaret Atwood and Octavia Butler to Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Toni Morrison, the less alone I felt, and the more I began to see myself as part of something more.

It wasn't about one woman toiling against the universe. It was about all of us moving together, crying out into some black, inhospitable place that we would not be quiet, we would not go silently, we would not stop speaking, we would not give in.


It's hard to see the keyboard when you're trying not to cry.

Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
'But what of female villains? Perhaps I’m just not reading the right meta, but it’s always seemed a bit glaring to me that, whereas (for instance) there are endless paeans to the moral complexity and intricate personal histories of the Buffyverse’s Spike and Angel, their female counterparts, Drusilla and Darla, never seem to merit the same degree of compulsive protection.' (Gender, Orphan Black & The Meta of Meta by Foz Meadows)

Jodie has emotions about Morgana Pendragon approximately five times a day. So, when Foz Meadows mentioned the need for more meta examining the moral complexity of female villains Jodie got to scheming.

Months later, our Female Villains theme week is finally here! Get ready to go Metaphysical, party with ladies who start fires and share all your love for female villains. We begin with a guest essay from Foz Meadows herself; the author of Solace and Grief and The Key to Starveldt, and editor of Speculative Fiction 2015.


I have gone out, a possessed witch
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.1


Bad women disobey.

This is the crux, the core truth, of our historically gendered ideas about villainy. Bad men are complicated: they have tragic pasts and hidden agendas, fascinating pathologies and extenuating circumstances; they are political animals, mavericks, monsters, kings and brigands and renegades. They differ from each other in innumerable ways, but while some of them might be misogynists or hypermasculine zealots, the thing that makes them bad is never their gender itself, but only their particular means of expressing it. Bad men are not representative of all men – not culturally, anyway; not at the level of shared narratives – but for centuries of storytelling, bad women have been representative of all women. Our villainy is a stain we brought upon ourselves and which, like Lady Macbeth's damned spot, refuses to wash clean.

And bad women disobey.

Read more... )
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[personal profile] renay
cover of Bone Gap by Laura Ruby


The quote on the cover of Bone Gap should have been an immediate "YOU SHALL NOT PASS", because although it's a quote from E. Lockhart (a writer I love) it also invokes magical realism which almost always makes me nervous.

"Bone Gap marks Laura Ruby as one of fiction's most original voices. She is capable of moving you to tears, terrifying you on deep and dreamlike levels, and making your heart shout with happiness. This book is magic realism at its most magical."

Okay, but...magical realism. What is magical realism, anyway? Every time I think I know I realize I don't actually know. It's like another language. Unless you use it every day you lose it. How did I earn an English degree without properly learning all these different terms? Is it writing that's suggestive of magic? A book that uses magic in otherwise normal realities? A type of story that feels magical but isn't (I hear people call The Girls at the Kingfisher Club magical realism sometimes). The label people give something, as Ana suggests, when they don't want to stick a fantasy label on it and appeal to mainstream readers?

I've read Wikipedia now so I know my vote, but this is a personal decision everyone needs to make for themselves. GOOD LUCK.

It's such a tremendously well-done novel that I really wish it owned its anchor genre more. Making up my own literary terms to serve my needs and apply to books without permission: FIVE BONUS POINTS. People who loved Chime by Franny Billingsley will find similar ideas in this book (but with more bees, corn, and male perspectives). They'd also be a fascinating co-read together. There are no spoilers for the plot, but I do discuss the themes the book tackles. There are also puns, which I assume many people will want to avoid. I'm sorry. I love a good pun. )
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[personal profile] nymeth
Cover for The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore, showing a vintage comic picture of Wonder Woman

A riveting work of historical detection revealing that the origin of one of the world’s most iconic superheroes hides within it a fascinating family story—and a crucial history of twentieth-century feminism

Wonder Woman, created in 1941, is the most popular female superhero of all time. Aside from Superman and Batman, no superhero has lasted as long or commanded so vast and wildly passionate a following. Like every other superhero, Wonder Woman has a secret identity. Unlike every other superhero, she has also had a secret history. Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore has uncovered an astonishing trove of documents, including the never-before-seen private papers of William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman’s creator.
(...)
The Secret History of Wonder Woman is a tour de force of intellectual and cultural history. Wonder Woman, Lepore argues, is the missing link in the history of the struggle for women’s rights—a chain of events that begins with the women’s suffrage campaigns of the early 1900s and ends with the troubled place of feminism a century later.

Wonder Woman has been fighting for women’s rights for a very long time, battles hard fought but never won. This is the story of her origins—the stuff of wonders, and of lies.
Before I start telling you about Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman, I need to tell you a little bit about myself: my history as a reader has undoubtedly influenced my experience with this book, and so it seems reasonable to talk about it.Read more... )
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[personal profile] renay


There's a moment with particular books when you pick them up and read them and put them down and feel like you can take on the world. That happens to me with films, too, exiting a dark theater into the glaring sunlight, feeling massive with possibility. Maybe your possibility is different than mine. No, your possibility is definitely different than mine because the fullness I feel generally translates itself to 8,000 words of fanfic that I'll write but never have the guts to publish.

Great stories do that, though. They make you want to tell your own stories that reach out and grab someone like the story you just experienced did to you. Or better yet, they make you want to tell your own stories even better. In that post-story moment you know for a fact you have a story in you somewhere that will make someone feel like you're feeling, make them feel even more powerful than you feel. We're all storytellers, after a fashion, even if the stories take their sweet time leaving our heads. Eventually we find the story that sends us careening past uncertainty and fear to tell our own, whatever form they may take. Read more... )
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[personal profile] nymeth
White cover with the same text in the quote that follows in red and black font
She didn’t write it.
She wrote it, but she shouldn’t have.
She wrote it, but look what she wrote about.
She wrote it, but “she” isn’t really an artist and “it” isn’t really serious, or the right genre—i.e., really art.
She wrote it, but she wrote only one of it.
She wrote it, but it’s only interesting/included in the cannon for one limited reason.
She wrote it, but there are very few of her.

I should start by warning you that this post will be quotes heavy: How to Suppress Women’s Writing is so great that I just want to cite the whole thing at anyone who’ll listen.Read more... )
Reviewed at: Novel Readings

(You?)
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[personal profile] bookgazing
Purple book cover for The Shadowed Sun shows a flaming sun eclipsed by a purple disc over a mountain top scene


N. K. Jemisin has cruised her way into my list of favourite authors over the last few years with her Inheritance Trilogy – three books that mix fantasy, romance and politics into an epically seductive potion. In 2012, she published the Dreamblood Duology and launched a new science fiction world that was just as fascinating as that found in "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms".

I enjoyed "The Killing Moon", the first book in the duology, and got knocked down by its ending. Still, it didn’t quite take over my life and emotions with the same force as the Inheritance trilogy. After reading about the order in which Jemisin finished her novels I think that the writing just wasn’t polished enough to effortlessly suck me under. Techniques are tried out in "The Killing Moon" which felt more assured in "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms", and the novel sometimes handed important information to the reader in a clumsy way. While "The Killing Moon" told an absorbing story its technical side was perhaps not as accomplished as the three later books built with more experience.

Enter the duology’s second book, "The Shadowed Sun". Maybe my heart beats so strong for this book because it benefits from Jemisin’s experience of having finished "The Killing Moon" and submitted it for publication? Perhaps being familiar with the world helped me to dive into the story more easily? Or it might just be that the character’s in "The Shadowed Sun" were more my kind of people. I just know I’m now this novel’s newest ambassador.

Let me count the ways I love it – the five wonderful elements that mean you should shove this novel into the limited space on your shelves right now.

Some spoilers )

Other Reviews

The Book Smugglers
Tor
Kirkus
SFF World
Shut Up Heathcliff
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[personal profile] helloladies
cover for Cold Steel


Trouble, treachery, and magic just won't stop plaguing Cat Barahal. The Master of the Wild Hunt has stolen her husband Andevai. The ruler of the Taino kingdom blames her for his mother's murder. The infamous General Camjiata insists she join his army to help defeat the cold mages who rule Europa. An enraged fire mage wants to kill her. And Cat, her cousin Bee, and her half-brother Rory, aren't even back in Europa yet, where revolution is burning up the streets.

Revolutions to plot. Enemies to crush. Handsome men to rescue.

Cat and Bee have their work cut out for them. (source)


Spoilers.

KJ: So I have start by thanking Renay for recommending this series to me so strongly, because otherwise I would not have picked it up. And that would have been a shame. Kate Elliott has long been on my list of "authors to check out someday, perhaps", but I'd never received a rec for any particular title. Since that list is very, very long, I doubt she would have moved to the top otherwise. Now I feel a burning need to at least take a look at everything else she has ever written.

Renay: By "strongly" you mean climbing the walls and going "READ IT OMG READ IT OR ELSE" and freaking you out so much that it became self-preservation, right? ;) I'm the best handseller, clearly. Count yourself lucky we live half a country apart, otherwise I would've taped the book to my face and done a backward crab crawl at you down a dark hall. WOULDN'T YOU HAVE BEEN CONVINCED? Read more... )

"The ideal is a story in which women are present all the way from the protagonist to multiple secondary and minor characters, and that their interactions with each other are as important as their interactions with men." — Kate Elliott, Author Interview, The Book Wars





Other reviews )
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Set in the 14th century, "The White Queen" follows the many fascinating royal and noble women caught up in the dynastic struggles between the houses of Lancaster and York. If you enjoy settling down to a period drama, but are tired of watching various actors parade around as the murderous and lecherous Henry VIII, then this fun drama that celebrates the mixed up, disrupted lives of ladies could be just what you’re looking for.

Your text book is full of spoilers too. )

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Ira is an illustrator and gamer who decided that disagreeing with everyone would be a good way to spend their time on the internet. more? » twitter icon tumblr icon AO3 icon

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