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20 May 2018

Review: The Night Masquerade

The Night Masquerade The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The mark of a genius writer is one who can wrap up a trilogy in a way that stays true to the spirit of the first book. Nnedi Okorafor has fulfilled this difficult task with "The Night Masquerade".

I will admit that I had my doubts near the end. Binti’s journey in the last third of this book is one that made me frustrated. Frustrated at what was happening and the thought that Okorafor had jumped the shark. But somehow she recovered and landed an excellent and fitting ending for our hero.

When I read “Binti” a few years ago, I saw it as a premiere novel for young adults ready to leave the safety of their parents’ homes to start their own journeys. The third book in her journey encapsulates the brutality that goes into forging one’s own path and the blow back that some have to manage when it comes to familial disappointments. At the same time it exhibits the loving and stumbling manner in which we craft chosen families. Pop culture and literature are full of bands of misfits that evolve into family - Buffy, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Lauren Oya Olamina's Earthseed - Binti’s crew joins these ranks.

As with the other books in this series, there is graphic violence, death, and heartbreak. I firmly believe these books are young adult, definitely not children’s books. The intelligence of the books lends itself well to readers who are young adults at heart.

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02 April 2018

Review: How to Love the Empty Air

How to Love the Empty Air How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the 15 years since I lost my mother, I have yet to read something that so beautifully and tragically embodies what it means to lose your biggest supporter.

I do not normally read poetry, but Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz's writing makes me want more. When her collection ended I did not want it to end. It was part because I wanted her to continue painting my own sorrow and because I wanted to read more of her art. It took me a few days to finish this book because the poem that is set at her mother's deathbed was so vivid, I wanted to sob...and well you don't do that when you are in the car. From there on out I read the book while holding my breath and tears streamed down my cheeks. And yet, also with a slight smile on my lips.

The smile was because for once, finally, I felt like someone truly knew the path I have been walking. Even the dates seems to line up to my own journey. The big difference was Cristin had to work through her grief as she prepared to get married while I grieved while pregnant.

I know I may be identifying too much to be a good reviewer, but this book blew my mind while simultaneously breaking and mending my heart. This is the book I have wanted to write the past 15 years. I consider it a gift that a review copy found its way to me. Thank you, Cristin.

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24 March 2018

Review: The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Of all the books that I have read about motherhood, "The Fifth Season" is in my top five. It feels impossible to write this review without spoiling this magical journey N. K. Jemisin gifted the world. But I'm giving it a try!

The world we find feels familiar to us, yet at the same time so far in the distant future. It is at once sometime long ago and just down the road. The women we meet along the way make up the bulk of the protagonists. Each are flawed in their own way - some are young enough we forgive them and hope they grow out of their weaknesses, others leave us wondering what led them to the place we meet them.

Holding it all together is a race towards the end of the world and two characters wrestling with the role of motherhood. As I said earlier, the manner in which motherhood and mothering is tackled in "The Fifth Season" is contemporary and accessible, all the while occurring on a planet ready to collapse onto everyone.

Life is the only reason why it took me so long to read this page-turner. At 449 pages, it seems intimidating, but at the conclusion you will want more. Thankfully there are two more books in this series.

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09 January 2018

Review: Home

Home Home by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WOW...What a second chapter to Binti's story. It was a delicious mystery as to how a headstrong young woman would return home from her first year of university with her alien friend. She returns home a changed person (as we all are after being on our own for some time!) and faces the ramifications of her tight knit family and community. I said "Binti" would be great for someone heading off to college. Now I say get "Home" and place it on your child's bed to greet them when they come home for the summer.

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16 October 2017

Book Review: Feminist Icon Cross-Stitch: 30 Daring Designs to Celebrate Strong Women

www.runningpress.com/book/feminist-icon-cross-stitch/anna-fleiss/

As the days get shorter and the air gets crisper a lot of us start to move into homebody mode. Part of this for me usually means getting crafty. And that is why I was excited to get a copy of Feminist Icon Cross-Stitch: 30 Daring Designs to Celebrate Strong Women by Anna Fleiss & Lauren Mancuso.

The patterns are pretty easy, so if you have never done cross-stitch before, most of these are totally doable. And you can choose from bad ass ladies such as Frida, as seen on the cover, and Sojourner Truth, Billie Jean King, and Simone de Beauvoir. Each pattern comes with a quick bio of each icon too! So you're learning something while taking some self-care time to craft.

If you are new to cross stitch you might wonder, what do I do with them when I'm done? OMG! You can keep it simple and put them in a frame. Or you can get frames that are ornaments to hang on your Christmas or Yule tree. You can get hand towels with cross stitch fabric included so you can hang Cleopatra from your oven. The possibilities are endless. There are even patterns of some of our current feminist sayings like "Nevertheless She Persisted" and "The Future is Feminist".

Photo of inside cover & good sample of patterns
This is definitely a great gift idea too, because as the days get colder, the closer we get to gift giving season. And if you do office gift bags you must get this. Now to hit my fave craft store and get some new DMC floss.

Please purchase your own copy of Feminist Icon Cross-Stitch from Powells or Indiebound and support Viva la Feminista.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy as well as a swag tote bag from a publicist.

Disclaimer

This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.

What I'm Currently Reading

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces


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