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Reviews

Dec 27 16:36

All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion, the

author: 
Flagg, Fannie

Fannie Flagg novels always go down easy and are southern charming as all get-out. All-Girl centers on a 60-year-old woman who finds out she's not southern, at least not in the southern way of knowing who your people are a few generations back. It's also about Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs). Unless you're a real crankypants, you should be moved by protagonist Sookie Poole's evolution, the WASPs accomplishments, or both. I sniffled quite a bit reading about the titular event while riding a New Jersey transit train home from Jewish Christmas.

reviewdate: 
Dec 25 2013
isn: 
978-0-8129-9463-6
Dec 26 21:10

Teatime for the Firefly

author: 
Patel, Shona

The publisher is Harlequin MIRA, but it didn't occur to me when I originally read a review of this book that it was a romance. I'm still not sure if that was the intent, because, finding the protagonist and her love interest annoying, I put the book down 200 or so pages in. The MIRA imprint is meant to encompass literary and genres aside from romance, for women.

reviewdate: 
Dec 23 2013
isn: 
978-0-7783-1547-6
Dec 22 15:25

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen

author: 
Knisley, Lucy

I'm not much of a foodie, but I do love graphic memoirs, so I was happy to receive Knisley's book from my homie C-Dog as a solstice (or whatever) gift. I found myself envying how Knisley's love of food and cooking shored up her relationships with parents and friends. As you may know, I also have a soft spot for anything period related, so I loved this passage:

A woman's body craved protein and iron.

< copyrighted image I can't reproduce >

I grew into my mother's cravings - the demands of my inherited body chemistry.

< copyrighted image where Lucy says, "Once a month I need spinach." and "Like a were-rabbit." >

reviewdate: 
Dec 21 2013
isn: 
978-1-59643-623-7
Dec 22 15:02

Behind the Mountains

author: 
Danticat, Edwidge

Danticat tells a story similar to her own, but set about twenty years later and with plenty of other elements to differentiate it from a fictionalized memoir, about a Haitian girl, Celiane, moving to the US and reuniting her family.

reviewdate: 
Dec 19 2013
isn: 
0-439-37299-2
Dec 22 14:35

Bone Season

author: 
Shannon, Samantha

In an alternate history clairvoyance is unnatural and a crime. Clairvoyants have to hide their power or risk being consigned to The Tower. It turns out there's something even worse than The Tower, an alternate government in Oxford, run by Rephaim, which Wikipedia and other sources define as giant spirits from the netherworld.

reviewdate: 
Dec 17 2013
isn: 
978-1-62040-140-8
Dec 15 2013

Early Decision: Based on a True Frenzy

author: 
Crawford, Lacy

She was already the daughter of a celebrity; an alumni connection could help only so much more. Why on earth hire an independent consultant, too? But then, there were Anne's clients: the parents who left nothing to chance. They refused to play with a deck that wasn't stacked. They'd raise a child unvaccinated before they'd consider letting him apply to college unaided.

Anne helps privileged (and one unprivileged) students get into college, mostly by working with them on their applications essays, but also a little bit by handling their families.

reviewdate: 
Dec 11 2013
isn: 
978-0-06-224061-3
Dec 08 2013

Dark Currents

author: 
Carey, Jacqueline

Carey's new paranormal series has a wide variety of magical creatures, including mermaids, norns (?) and your run-of-the-mill vampires and werewolves. The protagonist is a halfie, herself, a hell-spawn doing her best to not invoke her birthright and thereby destroying the world. She's also a file clerk at the local PD, doing supernatural detective work on the QT.

reviewdate: 
Dec 6 2013
isn: 
978-0-451-46478-1
Dec 01 2013

Unbearable Lightness: a Story of Loss and Gain

author: 
de Rossi, Portia

If you want to know what it's like inside an eating disorder, this is your chance. It's hardcore, but reading it, you understand how it happens. At least I could see it.

De Rossi (not remotely her real/given name) is a serious overachiever from childhood, the kind of kid who goes undefeated in classroom times tables challenges for years because she's drilled them so hard, even though she's not especially adept at math.

Quotations: 

Also, I was scared of lesbians. In fact, I would cross the street if I saw one coming toward me. One time I didn't cross the street and I ended up sleeping with a lesbian because I felt sorry for her.

reviewdate: 
Nov 30 2013
isn: 
978-1-4391-7778-5
Dec 01 2013

If You Could Be Mine

author: 
Farizan, Sara

Did you know it's easier to be transsexual in Iran than homosexual? According to the novel and Wikipedia, the only country in the world that does more sex reassigngment surgeries than Iran is Thailand, and many of the surgeries are subsidized by the government. Being born the wrong gender is an ailment, being queer is a sinful aberration. So that's what our heroine Sahar is dealing with as her best friend, who she has wanted to marry since the girls were six years old, gets engaged to a dude.

reviewdate: 
Nov 28 2013
isn: 
978-1-61620-251-4
Dec 01 2013

Night's Edge: Dancers in the Dark, Her Best Enemy, Someone Else's Shadow

author: 
Harris, Charlaine
Shayne, Maggie
Hambly, Barbara

I plugged the word "dance" into a search of ebooks available for checkout from NYPL, and this was the first result. Charlaine Harris's story, about a survivor of a brutal sexual assault trying to distance herself from her past is readable (as in fuckable). It's set in the same universe, or at least with the same rules about vampires as the Sookie Stackhouse novels. The protagonist is similar to Sookie, personality-wise, but doesn't have her mind-reading ability. Her vampire dance partner is a still-waters-run-deep Irishman.

Quotations: 

Special thanks got to Doris Ann Norris, reference librarian to the stars, who can look up the inner dimensions of a sarcophagus faster than I can whistle "Dixie." (Charlaine Harris)

reviewdate: 
Nov 27 2013
isn: 
978-1-4603-0265-1
Dec 01 2013

Not My Small Diary #17

author: 
Green, Delaine Derry

Cartoonists who are not Delaine depict their miserable high school years that were miserable. There's angst about popularity, getting beaten up, horrible teachers, bad hair, and more than I expected about boys' libidos. I mean, as a woman, I understand from pop culture that adolescent boys are sex-obsessed, but I didn't fully grasp that the arty nerdy guys are just as strung out as meathead future frat boys.

reviewdate: 
Nov 25 2013
Nov 24 2013

Attitude!: Eight Young Dancers Come of Age at The Ailey School

author: 
Fishman, Katharine Davis

Fishman follows eight high school dancers studying at The Ailey School, trying to discern what exactly talent is and what makes it go. She doesn't separately profile each student. Instead it's one narrative with themes (like eating disorders and weight, sexuality, race and friendship) explored by chapter. Although you can tell Fishman cares about her subjects, she manages not to get too sucked in. I like her researched but relatively casual approach.

reviewdate: 
Nov 24 2013
isn: 
1-58542-355-6
Nov 24 2013

My Life as a Silent Movie

author: 
Kercheval, Jesse Lee

A three-years-orphaned college professor loses her husband and daughter in a car accident, finds out she was adopted and goes off to find her roots. I don't want to give anything away, but I should warn you, everything in this novel takes forever. And if you're sensitive to misspellings and typos, stop being petty, but in case you can't, brace yourself. (What's up with the lax proofreading Indiana University Press?)

reviewdate: 
Nov 18 2013
isn: 
978-0-253-01024-7
Nov 17 2013

Bats or Swallows

author: 
Vlassopoulos, Teri

Canadian zine maker Teri's short stories are so good, and I don't even like short stories. (I can call her Teri because we're social media friends, and I've read most of her zines.) Her protagonists come from a variety of backgrounds. Most are young, but there's also a mother (of a stripper in his 20s), and one of them is male. I found all of narrators relatable and real.

reviewdate: 
Nov 15 2013
isn: 
978-1-926743-07-3
Nov 17 2013

Witches of East End

author: 
de la Cruz, Melissa

I put this book on hold at NYPL after watching the first episode of the TV series. I only made it through one and a half more installments of the show, but when my copy of the book became available, I figured I'd see how it compared. It's better, but not great. Some major plot points are surprisingly different.

reviewdate: 
Nov 12 2013
isn: 
978-1-4013-2390-5
Nov 10 2013

Ghost Bride, the

author: 
Choo, Yangsze

It is the rare piece of literary fiction that I can get through these days, but I sailed through The Ghost Bride. It's literary, also historical and magical. The story takes place in 19th century Malaysia and in heavenly realms.

reviewdate: 
Nov 7 2013
isn: 
978-0-06-222732-4
Nov 04 2013

Off the Rag: Lesbians Writing About Menopause

author: 
Lynch, Lee
Woods, Akia

My menopause book club with Kate Haas is about as regular as a perimenopausal woman's period, since we're on our fourth book since February. This mostly non-fiction anthology is my favorite entry so far. I liked one of the novels quite a bit, but Off the Rag is the first to get into what menopause is like, which is what drove Kate and me to start our club.

Quotations: 

I miss being a fertile woman about as much as I miss my wisdom teeth.

As a feminist I couldn't accept that I was a chemically-driven being!

It is my belief that a woman my weight (a little under two hundred pounds) could go into an emergency room with a bleeding stump and her detached leg in her arms and the doctor on call would prescribe a diet.

reviewdate: 
Nov 3 2013
isn: 
0-934678-77-4
Nov 04 2013

Alex #s 1-5

author: 
Hays, Anne

On Friday I cataloged the first five issues of librarian Anne Hays' pretty gender and self-exploration zine. It started off as a compilation zine, focusing exclusively on gender. In number two, Anne shares a bunch of her friends' responses to questions about how they feel about bras, and the zine continues to evolve into a personal zine on multiple topics with each issue.


Cover image from Stranger Danger zine distro

reviewdate: 
Nov 1 2013
Nov 04 2013

Hot Blooded

author: 
Carlson, Amanda

In part two of Carlson's Blooded series, the only female werewolf in the world is on a mission to rescue her mate, a werecat (of an as yet unidentified genus) with barely a cameo role in this installment. She's fighting a powerful goddess and there are stakes beyond saving her dude, like preventing a war between supernatural sects.

reviewdate: 
Oct 27 2013
isn: 
978-0-316206396
Oct 27 2013

PhD in LIS

author: 
Lingel, Jessa

Last year the note on Jessa's copy of my Winter Solstice Shout Out zine asked if she was going to make a dissertation procrastination zine. On the first page of Jessa's new zine she answers me, "Yes, Jenna. Yes, I am."

reviewdate: 
Aug 13 2013
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