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bell hooks: The Will to Change (Paperback, 2004, Washington Square Press) 4 stars

Everyone needs to love and be loved -- even men. But to know love, men …

Review of 'The Will to Change' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

I appreciate the compassion bell hooks has for men in this book. She strongly emphasizes the ways in which patriarchy hurts men, too, and advocates for reaching out to them, not closing them off. I also thought she did a great job pointing out the ways in which some women prop up the patriarchy as well, with their children and with their partners.

However, I have the same complaints about this book that I have about many nonfiction books - this was organizationally odd and very repetitive. The chapter titles didn’t always seem to correspond to the contents of the chapters or were so vague as to be unhelpful. There was also a lot of overlap between chapters and similar ground covered. This book isn’t described as a collection of essays or speeches collected after the fact, but it has that feel. After the first few chapters you’ve basically gotten …

Review of 'Julia' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

If you read 1984 and thought, “wow, Orwell did Julia dirty,” this book is for you. If you read 1984 and thought, “wow, I wish this was more of a story and less of a treatise,” then this book is also for you.

I reread 1984 just a few months ago not even knowing this book was coming out. I definitely think it adds to the experience to have the original fresh in your mind.

I knew that Orwell wanted me think of Julia as shallow and dumb in 1984, but I liked her anyway. When she fell asleep while Orwell read Goldstein’s book, I was like yep, girl, same. I feel like Newman kept some of that air-headed feel to Julia but basically didn’t fault her for it.

There are a few memorable icky bits of dialogue with Winston from 1984 replayed here from Julia’s perspective. Newman creates motivation …

reviewed The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty (The Daevabad Trilogy, #2)

S. A. Chakraborty, S. A Chakraborty: The Kingdom of Copper (Hardcover, 2019, Harper Voyager) 5 stars

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during …

Review of 'The Kingdom of Copper' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

WELL. I have to say I did not expect to enjoy this second book as much as I did. Nor did I expect to feel so heartbroken.

Review of 'Kids Run the Show' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Great read. At times it dragged a bit for me, but overall a very compelling story.

No argument from me on the creepiness of family vlogging. The theme and messaging around that is really strong. It gets too soapbox-y at times, more than it needs to in order to make the point. But it’s a fascinating family situation to explore. I think many of us have wondered how kids of family vlogging channels will feel about it all once they are older.

I saw one reviewer say the last bit goes off the rails, which set my expectations in a weird place. It just explores what might realistically happen 15 years later. It reminds me of Room by Emma Donoghue - she also explores the aftermath of a dramatic event, not just the dramatic event itself.

The mother Melanie’s POV is the most fascinating. The author did her work imagining …

Kikuko Tsumura: There's No Such Thing as an Easy Job (Paperback, 2021, Bloomsbury Publishing) 4 stars

A young woman walks into an employment agency and requests a job that has the …

Review of "There's No Such Thing as an Easy Job" on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

I'm on a mission to DNF or read the oldest books on my TBR - meaning the books that have been on my TBR the longest. I've DNFed a couple, and maybe should've DNFed this one, but it was okay in the end.

I found the first half more engaging than the second half, I think because the "point" such as it is had been made. You follow a nameless young woman who has just quit her job after suffering intense burnout. She tries out four new jobs over the course of this book, all supposedly "easy." Each one becomes more than she bargained for, either because of the work itself or her own attitude toward the work. It's clear she struggles not to get too invested, no matter how simple the job seems on the surface.

If the book had upped the pace, I'd have given it 4 stars. …

Mark Twain: Adventures of Tom Sawyer (2018, Independently Published, Independently published) 4 stars

The adventures and pranks of a mischievous boy growing up in a Mississippi River town …

Review of 'Adventures of Tom Sawyer' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

3.5 stars rounded down. Too long, but overall a fun time. I liked the ending enough to pick up book 2, I think, especially with this just being a duology.

I like the writing style of Wendel a lot. It’s not too quippy or jokey. But neither did it feel melodramatic. Great balanced tone for me.

I also enjoyed Bel and Lena as characters. Their personalities and motivations worked for me, and I was moved by some of their scenes near the end.

Problems I had:
1. Horrendously slow start. I picked this up because it’s a romantasy but it didn’t feel like one til close to halfway through. Then all of a sudden it’s nonstop attraction.
2. World building/lore issue. Why are the humans and avians at war? There’s something about gemstones mentioned, but it’s a gigantic blank for the most part.
3. Lena and Bel are remarkably cordial …

Review of 'The Trials of Empire (Empire of the Wolf, #3)' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

While books 1 and 2 are solidly 4/4.5 stars, I was a little let down by this one. Having said that, I think the second half is great. Finales are tough to pull off successfully, and I was not disappointed in the finale of the finale here.

Richard Swan: Tyranny of Faith (2023, Orbit) 4 stars

Review of 'Tyranny of Faith' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Like The Justice of Kings, this was a lot of fun and at a certain point unputdownable. But I’d also say this volume was kind of harrowing because it feels like bad news after bad news.

This one has a “case” as a focus point like the first book, but that’s resolved-ish in the first half and then the book shifts focus to Claver and concerns about Vonvalt’s sickness. There’s lot of foreshadowing that things get worse (TOO much foreshadowing since it starts to get repetitive, but I’m braced for some tragedy for sure). The scope also gets bigger as the group arrives in Sova and gets involved at a higher level.

I really enjoy how Swan writes some of the quieter, character focused dialogue. There are conversations between Helena, Bressinger, and Radomir (sometimes all together, sometimes one on one with Helena) that highlight their friendship and struggles in really …

James Crossley, Robert J. Myles: Jesus (Paperback, Zer0 Books) 3 stars

What made the Jesus movement tick? By situating the life of Jesus of Nazareth in …

Review of 'Jesus' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

My 3 star rating mainly comes from my interest fading in and out depending on the topic covered or point being made in this book. If I were 100% interested I think I’d give it 4 stars because it’s pretty accessible (at least for someone raised Christian) and well organized. I’d still dock a star for a couple complaints I have.

Thought provoking stuff/highlights:
1. Overall this is the first time I’ve read something that comes at Jesus’ life from a completely agnostic perspective. I was introduced to many new ways to view what did or didn’t happen and why this gospel says one thing and this one another. Examples: the idea that later writers felt the need to explain Jesus’ baptism, the potential competition between John the Baptist and Jesus, and the idea that Jesus was speaking of an earthly kingdom.
2. Jesus put in the context of the …

Laura Kaye: English Animals (Paperback, 2017, Abacus) No rating

Review of 'English Animals' on 'Goodreads'

No rating

80 pages in and find this very “okay.” The dialogue is awkward sometimes, the narrative voice pretty bland. Not really enough going on for me to care to continue. I think I’d land on 3 stars in the end which is not what I want to read.

reviewed The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty (The Daevabad Trilogy, #1)

S. A. Chakraborty: The City of Brass (2017) 4 stars

"Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty--an imaginative alchemy …

Review of 'The City of Brass' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

After multiple disappointing fantasy books, this one came through for me. ☺️ At first I thought it might be too lighthearted, but that tone only really existed in the banter between Dara and Nahri at the beginning. It got quite a bit darker by the end.

I like the world a lot, though I have to admit to being quite muddled about the history even now. It’s explained, but it’s complex (at least for my little brain), and involves some shifting alliances that are hard to track. I didn’t want to google anything for fear of accidentally reading spoilers! But the focus is political/court shenanigans which is a favorite for me in fantasy.

The last 100-ish pages are intense. I was surprised by how much happened and where it all went plot-wise. I was stressed. I also enjoy the characters - Nahri, Ali, Dara, Muntadhir. I like how Chakraborty …

Chuck Tingle: Camp Damascus (2023, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom) 4 stars

Welcome to Neverton, Montana: home to a God-fearing community with a heart of gold.

Nestled …

Review of 'Camp Damascus' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

This was aggressively fine. Short, entertaining enough, pretty well paced. The thematic content is very important. As an exvangelical, I found a lot of it relatable.

For a story told in first person, however, there’s remarkably little introspection. The story is more a tale of “I did this and then I did this” with minimal reflection. I was also hoping for some kind of epilogue to wrap up the story of Rose and her parents, but that doesn’t happen.

I like how Saul and Rose have different responses to the situation in terms of their faith, and the book doesn’t judge either of them for where they land. They also don’t judge each other which was refreshing.

Overall the book was just too surface level and honestly didn’t get as horrific or as dark as I thought it would. I wasn’t as moved as I wanted to be as …