Review: Gathering Blue

I recently reread The Giver, and then realized it was part of a quartet (which was not the case when I read it in middle school). I loved that book, and figured, why not see where it went after that? So, I dropped Gathering Blue onto my kindle app where it gathered digital dust for a few months while I finished some other books. And then finally I read it. I would totally read this series with my nephews when they are older if they want to, but for myself, I am going to let it go.

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Reading Beloved

I read Beloved by Toni Morrison probably a month or so ago, and I have been struggling with writing a blog about it. My experience of it defies my usual, quick reviews. The experience was a jumble of many different things, and because I think struggling through these experiences, especially difficult ones, is necessary both for my writing but more importantly for my own personal growth, I am going to (imperfectly) capture my experience of it. But before I do that, I want to first point you to someone else’s experience of it, because (as I will discuss) this book was not written for my white self with an ancestry free of enslaved people, so I hope you take a moment to go read crunkadelic’s experience of it as a sacred text at the Crunk Feminist Collective (and if you wrote or know of other blogs by African-Americans discussing the book, drop links in the comments!). If you only have time for one blog post, choose theirs.

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Boys Just Wanna Not Be Lab Rats: The Maze Runner et al.

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In the continuing theme of “Oh, shit, I meant to do that by now” I present to you my review of the Maze Runner trilogy. Although I read them in December during winter break, I was wise enough to take down a few notes to refresh what was lovely and what was … not so great about these books. Thar be spoilers below. Continue reading

Billy Budd (Or How I Learned That I Do Not Actually Hate Melville)

I get that it is a good idea to have kids read books they would otherwise not have read. I get that the classics are important to a well-rounded, quality education, even accounting for the narrow and kyriarchal way “classic” is defined. But man, can you turn off a kid from reading an author when they are set loose with an obscure text and no guide to at least rise to the level of appreciation. That is exactly how I came to loathe Melville. But I have been redeemed! Continue reading

Revisiting Surveillance & Torture: Orwell’s 1984

Long time, no post. I have a two word reason: law school. It’s not over, but it’s slowed enough for me to get back on the blogging horse. And how else does do that but with a discussion of the Surveillance & Torture State that certainly doesn’t look a thing like the government of your own country. </sarcasm> Alright, dear readers, let’s watch the watchers.

Content warning of mentions torture (without detail) and body image issues.
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Fight Back: A Review of The Unit

I apparently am having a reader craving for something specific, and I’ll keep devouring books until I satisfy it. Maybe – hopefully – it’s in the book I’m writing. Even if that is true, I hope to find it in other people’s works so my reviews here can be more than: it’s just missing some thing, let me tell you what it is. But alas, today is not that day, and The Unit is not that book. Let’s talk about why sticking it to the childless just didn’t really work its magic on me. {Beware the spoilers below.} Continue reading

Wanting More: The Gate to Women’s Country

I recently finished The Gate to Women’s Country by Sherri S. Tepper. I really wanted to like this book a lot. It is about a society where the women and men have created separate but seemingly symbiotic societies. This not just right up my alley; it’s practically the alley I live in. But something was missing. Come, readers. Let’s wind through my thoughts about this book and why, oh why, I was left wanting.

Spoilers abound after the break.

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Rereading: The Giver

Thar be spoilers below! Continue reading

Book Recommendation: Flowers for Algernon

Perhaps one day I’ll read a book published in the last year. Today is not that day. Having just started back to (my last year of) law school, I need to read not-law things, but I want to get lost and hang out in a good story. I don’t want to get a few chapters in and sigh, setting aside the book because this one is just not getting me. Basically, I’m looking for a low risk read. Which makes this a good time to catch up on that pile of recommended books. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes called out to me from my list (plus it was 5 bucks at The Strand).

The Quick and Dirty Plot: A mentally handicapped man becomes part of a scientific experiment that turns him into a genius and just as quickly, but unexpectedly, turns him back.

A lot of friends read this book in high school as part of an English class I apparently did not take, which is how it ended up on my recommendation list (note: most of my friends don’t read these kinds of stories but they know I love them). Aside from the engaging, tragic, beautiful writing, Keyes captures so sharply the experience of wanting to be part of some inner circle and the complications that come if you are ever invited in, because you will never really be one of them. The story is completely told through the eyes of the protagonist (Charlie), and we watch him understand more about the world he wants to be part of, watch him reject it, watch him become a new version of it, and then watch him lose it all, clinging desperately to any piece of it he can. Charlie becomes us and then becomes himself again, and we both want and don’t want that for him.

Things to Note: The book uses the R-word when discussing Charlie and his handicap, but mostly (if not exclusively) as a factual word rather than a purely pejorative one. In addition, the treatment of the female characters is unsurprising for a book penned in the 1960s, but they mostly lack depth and complication and are picked up and used and dropped almost without thought.

If you haven’t read Flowers for Algernon, and the above warnings would not ruin the experience for you, definitely add it to your to-read list (which hopefully doesn’t also involve law school, because no one should wish that on anyone).

Book Recommendation: The Sparrow

I have not had a book hangover in a few years, but The Sparrow gave me a really hard, really good on. I spent days avoiding reading or watching anything fiction. The story clung to me, and my brain did not want (yet) to be distracted from processing what I had just experienced. I paused my own writing, focusing on research I needed to do anyway. I spent a week wondering if I should pick up and start reading the book again. (I didn’t, but it is in my room, waiting for me). The last book hangover I remember was American Gods. That was three years ago. I was in Nepal at the time, so dealing with it was a lot easier than this one. Even if I watched TV, it was in Nepali or Hindi, so my comprehension was pretty superficial.

So I loved The Sparrow. (And actually, I feel my book hangover coming back writing this post.) Continue reading