Tuesday, July 11, 2017

SYUB: June 2017

Life According to Steph

Anyways, on to this past month and what I've devoured.

Rating scale*:

1/5 - Hated it, didn't finish.
2/5 - Tolerated it on principle to finish, didn't like it.
3/5 - Eh, didn't love it, didn't hate it. Had some good parts/kept me interested/finished it on principle.
3.5/5 - I liked parts of it.
4/5 - I liked the whole thing.
4.5/5 - I liked it a lot, but not sure I'd read it again.
5/5 - I LURVED it and I'd read it again.

*Subject to change based on my mood, the phase of the moon, or other unpredictable variables.

Skimmers, stick with the bold text (TL;DR* parts).
PS. Possible spoilers included in reviews.

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood  2/5 (paperback)

A group of women find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere in Australia with some abusive, fucked up overseers.  The common theme of why the women are there is that they were very sexual in the real world.  The 3 individuals who are in control eventually stop giving a fuck after they realize that the people who own the camp aren't coming.  Things become very.. feral.  People end up dying, one of the women becomes a trapper who keeps everyone alive with her rabbit prey and then she wears their pelts.  The two main characters form a bond that I don't really understand because I didn't understand much of this book.  In the end, someone from civilization comes to visit and the two main characters choose not to go back to society. 

TL;DR: I still have no idea what I read.  Actually, I do know, but it was so fucked up that I prefer not to think about it. 

Red Rising by Pierce Brown   3.5/5 (audiobook) 

Darrow is a lowly Red who becomes a Gold to start a revolution.  Darrow's transformation isn't as gruesome as it could be, thankfully.  Part of me wanted more about the transformation, but most of me was glad it was over quick enough.  Then Darrow goes on to the Institute where there are no rules (because it's supposed to mirror society?) and people (kids really, since they are all 16ish) die and all I could think of was Animal Farm.  i was over the killing quickly and I was glad when we finally got to the part where Darrow starts being a leader.

The only downside to reading a series after it is established is that you know the main character isn't going to get killed.  Yet, the last 25% I finally got pulled in and wasn't bitter about starting book #2.

TL;DR: A commentary on power in society.  I was 75% through the book when I finally got hooked.

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie   5/5 (library ebook)

I've talked about this book several times already on Teh Blog, but finally, the actual review!

I remember seeing this book on Goodreads a few months ago with good reviews, but I was afraid because of the African name and I thought it was going to be difficult for me to identify with and I didn't want to stumble through the names.. blah blah excuse excuse excuse.  I'm a fucking moron.  Everybody needs to read this book, right noawwwww.  Seriously.  The text is only 50 pages long.  You have the time.

Meaningful quotes:

Teach her that the idea of 'gender roles' is absolute nonsense.
Do not ever tell her that she should or should not do something because she is a girl.
'Because you are a girl' is never reason for anything.

Your feminist premise should be:
I matter.
I matter equally.
Not "if only."
Not "as long as."
I matter equally.
Full stop.

The knowledge of cooking does not come pre-installed in a vagina.

Adichie is a Nigerian that studied in the US and stayed.  Most of her works have to do with feminism or dealing with abuse.  After this book, I added most of her other works to my TBR list.

TL;DR: A letter to her friend's daughter about becoming a woman.  GO READ IT RIGHT NOW.


We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  5/5 (library ebook)

This book is based off of the TED Talk that Adichie gave on Feminism.  It's shorter than the TED Talk, which I haven't watched.  The topics discussed in this book are the foundation of her beliefs for the letter she wrote to her friends daughter.  This was another short book (49 pages total), so another quick read.  Worth it.

"We teach girls shame. 'Close your legs. Cover yourself.' We make them feel as though being born female they’re already guilty of something."
 “Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage.”

TL;DR: This book explains what feminism means to her and why she is a feminist.  Just because you're a feminist doesn't mean you hate men and makeup, it just means that you recognize that gender roles are prescribed behavior guidelines that need to be broken.

Golden Son by Pierce Brown   3.5/5 (audiobook)  

"Break the chains" is what I'd like to do with this book, but I won't.  I already bought the 3rd book because I want to know what happens to Darrow and how will this battle end.  Will he die?  In the 2nd book, it's a constant battle of "whose side are we on now?"  I seriously couldn't keep up with it.  Also, a character map might have helped me.  As if there weren't enough characters in book 1, book 2 gets even more characters and I had no idea really who was who other than the main characters.

Darrow has a falling out with the dude he impressed when the 1st book ended.  So he goes to the other side.  But they piss him off.  Along the way he's making alliances with sketchy characters.  In the end, we finally find out who Aries really is and there's a huge battle where most of Darrow's "howlers" and soldiers, if you will, almost drown.  Betrayal right and left and I was over it.  There's only so much drama I can handle.

TL;DR: Please don't let this just be a trilogy.  I think I should blame Red Queen for ruining me for trilogies and their enjoyment.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  4.25/5 (library ebook)

My final Adichie book for the month.  This was actually fiction, which was a nice switch.  This story is about a super Catholic family with an abusive father.  Their "heathen" cousins show the children what it is like to laugh and not have super strict rules imposed on you all the time.  I even got annoyed at reading how often the cousins laughed.  I got it.  They are really joyful all the time and the Catholic family isn't.  That didn't stop me from enjoying the book.

TL;DR: A Nigerian coup disrupts the life of an Igbo man who is the "saint" of the neighborhood.  He allows his children to go visit with their aunt and cousins for a week and their heathen ways rub off.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher  3.75/5 (library audiobook)

I thought this was a book about teenage suicide and that was it.  Unfortunately, I don't live under a rock so I've heard people talking about watching Thirteen Reasons Why on Netflix for a hot minute.  And by people I mean pretty much everyone but me.  So yeah, I was kinda intrigued, but I knew that I'd probably get around to watching it on Netflix around never.  BUT then I learned it was a book, game on.

There was no shortage of discussion that he was listening to cassette tapes, such antiquated technology (does it irritate anyone else that millennials forget that to get their MP3 players and smart phones we had to come from somewhere?  I never knocked records or the phonograph that came before the cassettes and CDs that I listened to), so that got old quickly.  Additionally, why was this kid so paranoid?  Is that a teenager thing?

Moving on to Hannah.. Yeah, I'm grateful for Teh PT Wife telling me there might be some Megan triggers in the book.  Overall though, I'm disappointed in the way her story went.  I'm disappointed that she used sex as an excuse to kill herself.  To me, this book would have been absolutely mind blowing had Hannah's character been raped.  "Allowing" someone to get raped wasn't enough for me.

I think my struggle was that for a book that focused on teenagers, sometimes they acted like teenagers and sometimes they didn't and that was complicated for me.  Also, what parent allows their kid to lie to them about working on a project and staying out doing who the fuck knows what?  A shitty parent in my opinion.  If your kid obviously has something going on, talk to them.  In fact, that applies to people in general, not just children... Which brings us full circle on the purpose of this book.

TL;DR: Realizing this book was about more than just a teenage suicide made me more interested in the story.  At the end of the day, people who are going to hurt themselves are probably reaching out in ways that are obvious if people take the time to watch/listen.  Also, girls/women are not play things for beings that own a penis.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two (Harry Potter #8) by John Tiffany (Adaptation), Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling   4.5/5 (library ebook)

I didn't realize I needed this book.  It got such bad reviews when it came out from all the die-hard fans and I just don't understand why.  The reality is, this book wasn't written by JK Rowling, so of course it doesn't have her same depth.  Nonetheless, this book took some of our favorite characters and breathed life into them again.  Additionally, it's written as a screenplay, of course there is going to be a lack of depth to the characters.  It's written to be acted out in a certain length of time, not read for hours and hours.  Let's just be realistic here people.

I enjoyed seeing how the different realities if time was changed and how Albus proved he was Harry's son by being clever. 

TL;DR: A screenplay that brings the world of Harry Potter back to life.  Haters gonna hate, but this book wasn't so bad if you accept it for what it is.


In Progress:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid   */5 (audiobook)
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson   */5 (library ebook)

On Deck:

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach  
Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh 
South of Broad by Pat Conroy 
A Dog's Journey (A Dog's Purpose #2) by W. Bruce Cameron 
Cinder by Marissa Meyer    
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
Morning Star by Pierce Brown  
Outlander 4+, including the novellas (most of which happen to be contained in one handy dandy book).

YAY for books!
*TL;DR = too long, don't read


  1. It took me awhile to get into Red Rising too and now I think I've put off reading Golden Son for too long - really need to get on that soon because I did end up enjoying the first one!!! Love your thoughts on the Cursed Child. I am with you - I was just so happy to be reunited with the characters (when I never anticipated that happening) that I didn't really feel the need to compare it to the other books.

  2. I loved, loved the Red Rising Series. And he has a new book in that world (Not sure if Darrow is still the main character though) coming out in January 2018. And I obviously need to read everything by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as soon as possible. Love the quotes you shared by her. And I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of Cursed Child - enjoy for what it is and be grateful for a little more Harry Potter magic in your world.

  3. I liked reading a positive Harry Potter and the Cursed Child review! I need to get to it soon. :)

  4. I loved We Should All Be Feminists. I will definitely check out her other work.

  5. I've read some fucked up things in my day but that first book surpasses them all. Except maybe Brother.

    Steph sent me her copy of We Should All Be Feminists and I plan to bring it on vacation with me next week.

  6. I'm reading The Cursed Child for Erin's Reading Challenge, and I'll definitely have to keep the fact that it's a screenplay in mind. I've been wanting to read Red Rising for a while, so hopefully I'll pick it up soon! I really enjoy series a lot!

  7. For me, The Natural Way of Things was another book that wanted to make you uncomfortable about patriarchy in society. I'm sure you know this. I'm just sorry you didn't enjoy it. :(

  8. Your TL;DR for the first one made me laugh.

    I thought the opposite to you for The Cursed Child. Die hard fans will love it because it's HP and they get to find out what happens next. I thought it was okay but it felt kind of unnecessary. The actual story was a bit flat - it was almost like somebody wanted an excuse to revisit the characters and then had to think up a story so there would be an actual plot and not just Harry and family sitting at home being a family.

  9. I LOVED The Cursed Child. I love reading plays though, so I'm really used to not having a ton of depth when it comes to characters, etc. It works for me though. I also got the chance to see the play last fall and it's amazing - I really hope they film it at some point and release it so people can experience it "live." That's really the best way.


  10. oh wow, the natural way of things sounds super weird and awful. i remember Erin loving it but it definitely didn't sound like my cup of tea.
    don't ever be certain that a main character doesn't die! it's happened to me and series multiple times.
    oh god, i see Cinder is 'on deck'. you should skip it. that series is one of my all time faves and if you hate it, we can't be friends lol.
    i still haven't read the cursed child. i wonder if it would be a good audiobook because of the whole screenplay thing?

  11. Thanks for including the quotes from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's feminist manifesto and the link to her Ted Talk. I haven't read any of her books and I'm interested to hear her speak.


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