Demon child plotting against parent?
Finished: The Cabin at the End of the World
Brief Summary: A band of four weirdos show up at the New Hampshire vacation cabin of a married couple, Eric and Andrew, and their daughter Wen. The weirdos tell Eric and Andrew that unless one of them willingly kills the other, the world will end. Are they wackos or visionaries? Who’s getting out of the cabin alive?
My Report: Meh. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you absolutely love horror novels and are looking for something that’s well-written and creepy. I just didn’t love the way it played out.
Reading: The Clock Dance
Brief Summary: Willa Drake revisits pivotal moments in her life, beginning with the day her mother disappeared in 1967.
Initial Thoughts: Anne Tyler can do no wrong. Charming and insightful as usual. Tyler is a deceptively thoughtful writer. By that I mean that you almost forget how profound she is because she makes it seem so easy.
Will Read Next: The Book of Essie
Why I Put It on My List: It’s about reality TV and a cult-like religion and a female protagonist who begins to question everything. Yes, please.
“A razor-sharp and deeply felt novel that illuminates the pivotal role of work in our lives […] that captures the emotional complexities of five HR colleagues trying to balance ambition, hope, and fear as their small company is buffeted by economic forces that threaten to upend them.” –Amazon
“So far…meh.” –Me
Like many Americans, I watched the Brett Kavanaugh hearings last week. The hysterical behavior of Kavanaugh, Lindsey Graham, and Orrin Hatch, among others, turned the hearings into a pageant of perceived male victimization. For anyone who doesn’t benefit from white male privilege, the performance was a disgusting slap in the face–a reminder that many of our political representatives prefer to believe an angry, unhinged man rather than actually investigate a credible accusation.
Trump’s comments yesterday at the swearing-in ceremony demonstrated the hold white male patriarchy still has on America. Trump gave his new friend a tongue-bath, declaring him “innocent” and apologizing for his having to endure questions at a job interview.
Even if an investigation revealed no evidence of a sexual assault, Kavanaugh’s behavior at the hearing showed a man who can’t control his emotions, can’t hold up under pressure, can’t defend himself without resorting to rage, and can’t address issues without bringing in his personal biases. Can you imagine if a woman had reacted that way? Or a person of color?
So, yeah, it’s a troubled time in America. My plan–besides voting–is to start reading more books that help me understand perspectives that our politicians desperately want to silence.
Below is a list of books I plan to tackle. What are you going to read?
“In Living a Feminist Life Sara Ahmed shows how feminist theory is generated from everyday life and the ordinary experiences of being a feminist at home and at work. Building on legacies of feminist of color scholarship in particular, Ahmed offers a poetic and personal meditation on how feminists become estranged from worlds they critique—often by naming and calling attention to problems—and how feminists learn about worlds from their efforts to transform them.”
“In Asking for It, Kate Harding combines in-depth research with a frank, no-holds-barred voice to make the case that twenty-first-century America supports rapists more effectively than it supports victims. From institutional failures in higher education to real-world examples of rape culture, Harding offers ideas and suggestions for how we, as a society, can take sexual violence much more seriously without compromising the rights of the accused.”
“In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change.”
“Anxious about her prospects after leaving a stagnant job, Tambudzai finds herself living in a run-down youth hostel in downtown Harare. For reasons that include her grim financial prospects and her age, she moves to a widow’s boarding house and eventually finds work as a biology teacher. But at every turn in her attempt to make a life for herself, she is faced with a fresh humiliation, until the painful contrast between the future she imagined and her daily reality ultimately drives her to a breaking point.”
P.S. If you want strong women in leadership, consider donating to Heidi Heitkamp’s campaign. She had the guts to stand up for her convictions at the risk of losing her senate seat next month. I’m proud to be a North Dakotan.
It could’ve used a stronger editor because it was a little bloated at times. I can forgive that, though, because the characters were solid and the research really brought this time period to life.
I’m not sure I’ll tackle the sequels right away, but I really did enjoy reading this one.
Reviewers are calling it dark. It absolutely is. If you don’t like the kind of psychological thrillers that mess with your head, this one isn’t for you.
So far, it reminds me a bit of You: A Novel by Caroline Kepnes.
I have this on hold from the library. I know nothing about it except the blurb below.
“They were on a lark, three teenage girls speeding across the greens at night on a “borrowed” golf cart, drunk. The cart crashes and one of the girls lands violently in the rough, killed instantly. The driver, Jo, flees the hometown that has turned against her and enrolls at a prestigious boarding school. Her past weighs on her. She is responsible for the death of her best friend. She has tipped her parents’ rocky marriage into demise. She is ready to begin again, far away from the accident.”
I’m reading The Doomsday Book because a trusted reader recommended it to me. So far so good.
I’m reading Animal Farm because I’ve never read it before, and I feel like this is one of those books everyone should read.
I’m re-reading Dear Committee Members in anticipation of Julie Schumacher’s new book. I’m not ashamed to say this is my third reading. Still hilarious.
I always forget that I love historical fiction until I start reading a good historical novel, and I’m like, “Oh, yeah. This is my jam.”
I started reading Varina by Charles Frasier this week, and while I’m not terribly far into it, I’m enjoying it so far. Here’s the description:
Her marriage prospects limited, teenage Varina Howell agrees to wed the much-older widower Jefferson Davis, with whom she expects the secure life of a Mississippi landowner. Davis instead pursues a career in politics and is eventually appointed president of the Confederacy, placing Varina at the white-hot center of one of the darkest moments in American history—culpable regardless of her intentions.
Here are five more historical novels that I loved along with publishers’ descriptions.
On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office–leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.
But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist–an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .
2. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a “baby farmer,” who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves—fingersmiths—for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.
One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives—Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud’s vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of—passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum
3. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
Faber leads us back to 1870s London, where Sugar, a nineteen-year-old whore in the brothel of the terrifying Mrs. Castaway, yearns for escape to a better life. Her ascent through the strata of Victorian society offers us intimacy with a host of lovable, maddening, unforgettable characters.
4. Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue
Born to rough cloth in Hogarth’s London, but longing for silk, Mary Saunders’s eye for a shiny red ribbon leads her to prostitution at a young age. A dangerous misstep sends her fleeing to Monmouth, and the position of household seamstress, the ordinary life of an ordinary girl with no expectations. But Mary has known freedom, and having never known love, it is freedom that motivates her. Mary asks herself if the prostitute who hires out her body is more or less free than the “honest woman” locked into marriage, or the servant who runs a household not her own? And is either as free as a man? Ultimately, Mary remains true only to the three rules she learned on the streets: Never give up your liberty. Clothes make the woman. Clothes are the greatest lie ever told.
5. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery.
Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem.
What are your favorite historical novels?