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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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

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

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard

roses and rot

“Happily ever after is the dropping of a curtain, a signal for applause. It is not a guarantee, and it always has a price” (Howard).

I first heard of Roses and Rot by Kat Howard on the All the Books podcast. Liberty and Rebecca and the rest of the Book Riot team are partly responsible for my ever-growing TBR list. When I heard that it was a modern fairy tale, I rushed to find it. Fairy tales are my thing. Old ones, new ones, I don’t care. Then, I saw the mixed reviews. There are many people who love this book. But, there are just as many that were disappointed in it.

Roses and Rot is a debut novel by Kat Howard that retells the story of Tam Lin, a beloved Scottish folk ballad. The story follows two sisters, Imogen and Marin, one dark, one light, one a dancer, one a writer. After surviving an abusive childhood and being apart for many years, the sisters decide to apply together to an artist’s retreat called Melete.  In the beginning, Melete seems perfect, a place to reconnect with each other and to focus on their art. But, Melete is not all that it seems, and its glossy perfection is a mirage for deeper and darker magic. And it may demand more of the artists than they are willing to give. The sisters must, in the end, decide if art and success are worth the sacrifices they will have to make.  Continue reading