I have read some really great books this week! As I am not too well, I will write my first draft of this post with just the blurbs and reviews then, if I feel up to it, I will add in some more comments before publishing.
My first two books were new in to the public library and I was so pleased to find Mary Beard’s Women and Power: a Manifesto. It is quite a while since I last read non-fiction. Here is the blurb:
At long last, Mary Beard addresses in one brave book the misogynists and trolls who mercilessly attack and demean women the world over, including, very often, Mary herself. In Women & Power, she traces the origins of this misogyny to its ancient roots, examining the pitfalls of gender and the ways that history has mistreated strong women since time immemorial. As far back as Homer’s Odyssey, Beard shows, women have been prohibited from leadership roles in civic life, public speech being defined as inherently male. From Medusa to Philomela (whose tongue was cut out), from Hillary Clinton to Elizabeth Warren (who was told to sit down), Beard draws illuminating parallels between our cultural assumptions about women’s relationship to power—and how powerful women provide a necessary example for all women who must resist being vacuumed into a male template. With personal reflections on her own online experiences with sexism, Beard asks: If women aren’t perceived to be within the structure of power, isn’t it power itself we need to redefine? And how many more centuries should we be expected to wait?
And this was my four star review on Goodreads:
Two lectures by the wonderful Mary Beard, updated and put into book form. I really enjoyed her links between the classical world and today’s situation and her analysis of where women are now. Reading this, I could hear her voice in my head speaking the fluent sentences. Such lovely, flowing writing. My only criticisms are that I wish the book had been longer and had given her more space to expand her ideas to give us some suggested solutions. At the moment, many women’s voices are being drowned out by those of loud and arrogant men, who also hold firmly onto power. How do we change this?
My second book was also by a feminist: Laura Bates, famous for her work on the Everyday Sexism Project. This book, Girl Up, has the following blurb:
They told you you need to be thin and beautiful.
They told you to wear longer skirts, avoid going out late at night and move in groups – never accept drinks from a stranger, and wear shoes you can run in more easily than heels.
They told you to wear just enough make-up to look presentable but not enough to be a slut; to dress to flatter your apple, pear, hourglass figure, but not to be too tarty.
They warned you that if you try to be strong, or take control, you’ll be shrill, bossy, a ballbreaker. Of course it’s fine for the boys, but you should know your place.
They told you ‘that’s not for girls’ – ‘take it as a compliment’ – ‘don’t rock the boat’ – ‘that’ll go straight to your hips’.
They told you ‘beauty is on the inside’, but you knew they didn’t really mean it.
Well I’m here to tell you something different.
Hilarious, jaunty and bold, GIRL UP exposes the truth about the pressures surrounding body image, the false representations in media, the complexities of a sex and relationships, the trials of social media and all the other lies they told us.
I gave this book three stars. Here is my Goodreads review:
I read this wearing my retired school librarian’s hat! In many ways a very good book, in that it covers a huge range of topics for teen girls in a humorous but very informative way. I am not sure which exact age it would appeal to, though. Younger teens, probably, but would the length of the book put them off? Also the very explicit language may put off their parents or teachers! This is the sort of book which would go missing from a school library almost instantly! I also thought that some girls might find it a bit patronising (matronising?). I remember being blown away as a young woman when reading the original version of Our Bodies, Ourselves by the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. Is this book trying to do something similar for this young generation? Perhaps and it is almost there, but maybe a bit too long and wordy.
By now, I had finished all of the books borrowed from the library and I then fell back on their ebook service. I am pleased to say that I was able to choose some really fabulous books to read next. If I am unable to visit the library tomorrow, I will be happy to continue to read ebooks on my iPad over Christmas.
So, the third book of the week was The Ice by Laline Paull. I had already read her acclaimed book, The Bees, quite some time ago. This is the blurb for The Ice:
It’s the day after tomorrow and the Arctic sea ice has melted. While global business carves up the new frontier, cruise ships race each other to ever-rarer wildlife sightings. The passengers of the Vanir have come seeking a polar bear. What they find is even more astonishing: a dead body.
It is Tom Harding, lost in an accident three years ago and now revealed by the melting ice of Midgard glacier. Tom had come to Midgard to help launch the new venture of his best friend of thirty years, Sean Cawson, a man whose business relies on discretion and powerful connections – and who was the last person to see him alive.
Their friendship had been forged by a shared obsession with Arctic exploration. And although Tom’s need to save the world often clashed with Sean’s desire to conquer it, Sean has always believed that underneath it all, they shared the same goals.
But as the inquest into Tom’s death begins, the choices made by both men – in love and in life – are put on the stand. And when cracks appear in the foundations of Sean’s glamorous world, he is forced to question what price he has really paid for a seat at the establishment’s table.
Just how deep do the lies go?
This one got a four stars and this review:
It is hard to categorise this book as it is part thriller, part environmental treatise, part science fiction, part mystery… and a lot more. The setting is a dystopian view of the near future where climate change has melted the Summer sea ice in the Arctic and has created open shipping lanes. Tourists, traders, environmentalists, politicians, money men and women, and mercenaries have become involved in a kind of wild frontier.
I really loved the book and can recommend reading it wearing a thick jumper and several warm scarves. The descriptions of the Arctic scenery were amazing and I loved the small extracts from the works of early explorers that were placed between the chapters. Although the main character was pretty unlikeable for most of the book, I was pleased to see that he redeemed himself, somewhat, towards the end. I can’t say that I would like to visit the Arctic after reading this, but I do feel that the author appears to have captured the atmosphere and experience very well indeed. Well worth reading.
The next ebook book was also worth four stars. I am so pleased to see that the public library are continuing to add great new books to their ebook offer! This is the review for The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day:
Anna Winger can know people better than they know themselves with only a glance—at their handwriting. Hired out by companies wanting to land trustworthy employees and by the lovelorn hoping to find happiness, Anna likes to keep the real-life mess of other people at arm’s length and on paper. But when she is called to use her expertise on a note left behind at a murder scene in the small town she and her son have recently moved to, the crime gets under Anna’s skin and rips open her narrow life for all to see. To save her son—and herself—once and for all, Anna will face her every fear, her every mistake, and the past she thought she’d rewritten.
This is is my response:
A really good read with a couple of plot lines that eventually come together. I liked the main characters and was intrigued by the idea of using hand-writing expertise and a woman continually running from her past as themes. The book was engrossing with occasional nerve wracking moments. As I read it as a ebook, I don’t think I will find more by this author in the library, which is a shame as I am sure that I would enjoy more by her. Recommended.
My final book of the week was absolutely brilliant and well-worth the full five stars !
🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟
I follow Karin Slaughter on Facebook and had seen comments about her latest book: The Good Daughter. Here is the blurb:
Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…
Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father — Pikeville’s notorious defense attorney — devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.
Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself — the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again — and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized — Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case that unleashes the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried forever…
The minute that I finished the book, I sent Karin Slaughter a rather gushing message via FB and was pleased to see a gracious response this afternoon. Here is my equally gushing review:
I have to give this the full five stars! Such a wonderful and brilliant book. I love this author and have read everything I can get my hands on as ebooks or in print, but I think this is her best so far. Such a rollercoaster of a read starting with a huge event at the beginning and never really letting up. I simply could not put this book down and so I read it all in one go. I really enjoyed seeing the sisters’ characters through their own eyes and then through each other’s and also the central events unfolding in a similar way. Beautiful and clever writing. The kind of book where you cannot wait to find out the ending but you are sad that to have finished. The kind of book that you will remember for a long time.
I am now going to sift through her list of books on Goodreads and make sure that I request everything that I haven’t read yet from the library. Slaughter is really that good 💗.
So, I hope all of you who are equally keen readers enjoy your reading over the holidays, if you get time.