The Book of the Unnamed Midwife: A Review

Meg Elison’s The Book of the Unnamed Midwife received the Philp K. Dick Award in 2015, and it’s not hard to see why. Philip K. Dick once said,

“Today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups… So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.”

midwifeGood science fiction allows us to imagine an alternate reality and, in many cases, to challenge those systems of power that structure our world. The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, examines and challenges social structures like gender, sexuality, injustice, morality, religion, and ultimately power.  Continue reading

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Review: You Will Know Me

Megan Abbott is referred to as the “Queen Bee”by her fans, and for good reason. She has written several novels, many which fall into noir or mystery categories, and has received numerous awards, including Best Hardcover Novel of the Year from International Thriller Writers for The Fever (2015).  Abbott’s novels often focus on themes related to the social dynamics of young adulthood, of girlhood, sexuality, community hysteria, and the lines between child and adult.

you will know meIn her recent novel, You Will Know Me, Abbott continues to explore these themes, but departs from her usual convention of telling the story from the teenage girl’s perspective. Instead, the novel centers on the adults whose lives revolve around their daughters in the competitive world of gymnastics.  Continue reading

Best Books of Summer 2016

Yesterday, I noticed that leaves are starting to fall from the trees, and  pecans are on the ground. And on our evening walks, the cicadas loudly announce the dog days of summer. The fall semester  begins on Wednesday, so even though it is still unbearably hot and humid, I know that summer has officially come to an end. Fall–my favorite time of year–is around the corner. In the south, we have to wait longer for cooler weather, but our autumn is a much-deserved reward for enduring the summer. In the fall, the air is crisp, leaves crunch underfoot, the sun often shines, and the world is full of color.

The fall season also means a busy semester and not quite as much time to read. Rather, I catch up on reading in the summer and over winter breaks. So, I thought the best way to wrap up my season and prepare to move into another is to recap my favorite books of the summer. Continue reading

Siracusa: A Review

“In life one rarely knows which remarks of the hundreds uttered in the course of a day will turn out to be auspicious. In fiction, foreshadowing is planted and flagged in some (hopefully or desperately) subtle way, drama demands it.”

In July, I joined the Book of the Month Club, and I’m so glad I did. Each month, BOTM judges choose five books from which members can choose. Members receive one book as part of their membership, but they can also add additional books for $9.99. BOTM has allowed me to explore new titles that I maybe wouldn’t have purchased in hard cover, and so far, I have enjoyed both of the books I’ve chosen. Siracusa by Delia Ephron was my choice for August, and it has been moved to the top of the list of the best books I’ve read this summer–possibly this year (joining Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi).

siracusa

For those unfamiliar with Delia Ephron, she is a prolific and talented writer who is responsible for numerous plays, movies (including You’ve Got Mail and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), and books (like Sister, Mother, Husband, Dog and The Lion is in).

Siracusa recounts two couples’ travels in Italy and the disastrous consequences when secrets and betrayals are unveiled. Michael and Lizzie are writers from NYC. He is famous and award-winning and desperately trying to complete a novel that will reaffirm his talent. She is a not-so-successful journalist looking for the next big story.  They are joined on the trip by Lizzie’s college boyfriend, Finn, and his wife, Taylor. Snow, their pre-teen daughter, further complicates the awkward dynamics of the group.   Continue reading

Summers are for Buffy

 

Buffy: Does it ever get easy?
Giles: You mean life?
Buffy: Yeah, does it get easy?
Giles: What do you want me to say?
Buffy: Lie to me.
Giles: Yes. It’s terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true. The bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies and… everybody lives happily ever after.
Buffy: Liar.

So, I do this thing where I re-watch particular shows and movies according to the season. In the Fall, I watch Gilmore Girls (yay for new episodes this fall!). Every Christmas, I watch all of the Harry Potter films again. Summers, though, are for Buffy.

Continue reading

All the Birds in the Sky: A Review

“And at the last, a war between magic and science that would leave the world in ashes. At the center of all this were a man and a woman, who were still children now.”

allthebirds

All the Birds in the Sky is a quirky, urban fantasy that reminded me at times of some of Terry Pratchett’s work–though not as entirely successful.

Patricia Delphine and Laurence Armstead are outcasts–in their families and in school. And they both have special abilities. She has the magical ability to talk to birds and to fly (on occasion). He is a computer and engineering genius who is trying to create a sentient system in his bedroom closet. The two meet as children and form what seems to be an unbreakable bond when they are separated in middle school. Patricia and Laurence grow up and live their own lives only to reunite in San Francisco as the world begins falling apart and to find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. She on the side of magic and nature. He on the side of science and technology. The two must navigate their own belief systems and set aside preconceived notions if they are to save humanity and this little “rock” we call Earth. Continue reading