“Happiness is a dandelion wisp floating through the air that I can’t catch. No matter how hard I try, no matter how fast I run, I just can’t reach it. Even when I think I grasp it, I open my hand and it’s empty.”
Oh wow look at me, here is a young adult contemporary coming of age novel that I DIDN'T HATE. Who am I? I guess most of the time when I do pick up YA, I'm disappointed, so I've come to expect the worst. I picked this one up solely for the immigrant story in it, and while the focus wasn't too much on it, I still enjoyed it very much.
It's not a perfect story, not a perfectly structured book by any means. Truthfully I found many things that I did not like, BUT, I found even more things that I did like.
I could do without a very Insta-lovey chapter. It wasn't bad, but hey it still made me roll my eyes.
“One of the things I hate most in life is people telling me to calm down, as if I’m some out-of-control lunatic who isn’t entitled to have feelings.”
Julia, the main character, is a power house (well she is actually a mess, but what a powerful mess).
From the very first page, the narration lured me. I knew that me and Julia will get very much along! Julia is stubborn, willful and doesn't have time for your bullshit. She loves books, she loves learning and she will not settle down for anything!
The book explores a lot of themes, and in a sense it's the downfall of it. It tried to be too many things at once. All of these subplots, while cohesive, could make up a whole other book.
I personally wished that there was a lot more focus on immigration part of the book (the book is advertised as an immigrant experience book, and while there was an aspect of it there, it wasn't quite what I was looking for). I am not your perfect Mexican daughter is a coming of age novel first, and everything else second.
“I love the smell of old bookstores—paper, knowledge, and probably mildew.”
“I watched her die many times. In my way, not in hers. In sunlight, in shadow, by moonlight, by candlelight. In the long afternoons when the house was empty. Only the sun was there to keep us company. We shut him out. And why not? Very soon she was as eager for what's called loving as I was - more lost and drowned afterwards.”
I picked up Wide Sagrasso Sea at a thrift store purely because of the cover. How could I not? It was the most gorgeous and alluring thing I have ever seen. I read the cover and I was intrigued, but skeptical (it is a story of the mad woman in the attic, a presumed prequel to Jane Eyre). I've never heard of Jean Rhys, I feared it might be one of those contemporary fluffy re-tellings of an already known book. I could not have been more wrong.
Turns out Jean Rhys is a well known literary genius and this book, ahh this book is a masterpiece. Fair warning though, if you are a fan of Rocherster's in Jane Eyre, maybe don't read this? Because after, believe me you will not be.
I am trying very hard to separate two books, two so very different pieces of literature. Two sides of a coin I didn't know I needed. But, even if Wide Sagrasso Sea casts an ugly, deep shadow on Jane Eyre's Rochester, I will not trade reading it for anything.
If you're read Jane Eyre already, you know that it reads very much like an autobiography. Characters feel real, the setting even realer and you've left with the feeling that these people really lived, really excited. Wide Sargasso Sea takes that to the next level. If before things felt real, now they are three dimensional.
The writing styles could not be more different, the settings are like day and night. Wide Sargasso Sea is blazing with colors, heat and mad passion, while Jane Eyre is bleak, cold and collected. And yet, and yet Jane and Antoinette (for there was never Bertha, Bertha was a selfish whim of Rochester's) could not be any more similar.
“I have been too unhappy, I thought, it cannot last, being so unhappy, it would kill you”
I am honestly stupefied how a book so short, merely 170 pages could hold so much. The themes it explores, the messages it sends - all the while creating round, tortured characters that feel so very real. At all times I was mesmerized and terrified by this book. At all times, I, as Antoinette herself, felt an unending doom loom over the story.
If there ever was a book to hold discussions over in a book clubs it's this one. The reverse racism, the domestic neglect, alcoholism, prejudices of community and pressure to belong, to fit in. And most of all, the driving force of the story - a woman, so lonely, so forsaken, that she would do anything to be touched, to be loved. For being a classic Wide Sargasso Sea, is so very modern in its regard to women and their sexuality.
“She’ll have no lover, for I don’t want her and she’ll see no other.”
Needles to say that I need more Jean Rhys in my life. Maybe Wide Sagrasso Sea is one time wonder, but I have to know for myself. In her I found something that I've been looking for a very long time. She's sparse with words, but she paints an explicit picture. She holds the details, making the reader's imagination bloom and fill the blanks. She's forward and blunt and I absolutely love that.
I have put away writing this review for months, because I couldn't figure out how I felt about this book. I loved reading it. I did. But I am also not entirely satisfied with legitimacy of it.
It basically comes down to one big problem I had with it - it's written by a very privileged, very white woman, who may or may not have any business writing a non-fiction book about Mumbai.
But people can write books about whatever they want despite who they are or where they are from. Very true. It doesn't always have to be own voices book, it doesn't.
But I kept thinking "what if it was?". What if a person who's actually seen these things, felt these things wrote a book like that? How much more emotional would that have been? How much more real, more truthful and with that terrifying it could have been.
Because I know I should have felt things. The atrocities I've read about in this book should have stirred something in me, but they didn't. I felt like an observer, and not a participant. I was appalled, yes, but I wasn't indignant, or angry. And I sure as hell should have been.
When I was reading the book I couldn't honestly tell that the author wasn't intimately and personally familiar with all of those things. I didn't know that the author was not of color. I didn't know that the author wrote her whole book based on research from the library, because she decided that a trip to Mumbai would affect her weak health too much. All of that came from the author's note. And all of that killed the book a little.
I applaud Katherine Boo for writing a truthful post word and explaining herself. I do. I applaud her writing skills and for making me feel like she knew what she was doing. And I think she did. But, an important story like this deserves more than just a library research. It deserves a stronger voice. A voice that demands justice, not only a voice that tells a story.
To say that I wasn't expecting to love this as much as I did is an understatement! From the very first pages, I knew that this would be the one. The IT book, the perfect summer read, a powerful feministic punch to the face. Yes, yes and yes!
I liked Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows alright, but it lacked something for me, so I was a bit apprehensive going into this. But, I needn't have worried.
The three sisters from the story are as different as it gets: a rebel, a very by-the-book and one that is torn between two worlds. And somehow I was able to relate to all three of them at once.
I say that this is a perfect summer read, because of how easy it reads, how engrossing it is, and because of the hot Indian summer setting, that perfectly correlated with my 100 degrees Florida one. BUT, the topics of this book are far from a fluffy summer read. They are heavy. They are raw and they are so important!
Normally, I don't deal well with the topics this book was exploring. Normally I get stuck up on my own opinions and storm away if the book doesn't share them. But Balli Jaswal made me think. Not change my views completely, no, but open a window of possibilities for other views. And for that this book will be among the ones that have changed me forever.
It's also safe to say that this book has started my thirst for immigrant stories. For own voices stories! I felt a tug when I read Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, but after this one, it is unquenched!
I cannot wait for more from this author!
Well, I just finished my first Alice Hoffman novel.
I dislike when books hype me up and then let me down.
I loved the first half of this book so much that I put a hold on Practical Magic at my library after just a few pages. I found the writing chanting, and like nothing I've ever read before. And then, somewhere towards the middle the spell broke.
The plot stagnated, things got awfully repetitive and the writing, instead of being enchanting became way too flowery. I could not wait to be done with the book! Thankfully things did get better for me in the last half, but by then it was a bit too late for me to re-invest myself into it.
I can't pinpoint the exact moment when I lost interest. I was reading it and enjoying it one moment, and the next - I was not. Books are magic, even if sometimes it's not the good kind.
I also found myself unable to connect to any of the characters deeply, or invest in them emotionally. I only really liked Haylin, and his story arc was the only one to evoke some feelings in me. My least favorite character was Vincent, hands down. Why? He left his dog! He abandoned him at his sisters' and went to live off somewhere in France, frolicking around in fields of flowers! (okay, it sounds really stupid out of contest, but it's kind of what happened). And never once he thought about his dog again. And I just can't like people who abandon their dogs. Sorry, not sorry.
I also found it annoying how certain things were repeated over and over again. For example, the way Franny looked. Almost on every page (not kidding) we are told something either about her red hair, her red boots or her black clothes. Most often we are told about all three at once.
Wait, what color was her hair again??
The main thing that might have killed the book for me was, that most of it was set in New York in the 60s. I'd have known that if I bothered to read the blurb on the cover, but no, I don't do that. And New York in the 60s is a subject I have absolutely no interest in.
I will still read Practical Magic , because I'm curious to see how that one plays out, and honestly hoping that plot will not be too similar. And because it won't be set in the 60s, so I might like it more.
“I felt the way I often felt in this country - simultaneously conspicuous and invisible, like an oddity whom everyone noticed but chose to ignore”
I am somehow both fulfilled and empty after finishing the Book of Unknown Americans. It wasn't the easiest of reads, but I also could not stop. A peculiarity, a paradox that will stay with me for a long time.
As an immigrant myself (a word that is a stigma now more than it was 5 years ago, when this book was written, because the world is going backwards) I found an avalanche of things I related to. And lats year when I read Girl in Translation I also found many things I could relate to. Even though I don't have anything in common with either culture. And just now I realized that it doesn't matter where we come from. We're all the same. It only matters where we come to.
“Maybe it’s the instinct of every immigrant, born of necessity or of longing: Someplace else will be better than here. And the condition: if only I can get to that place.”
The way this reads, a step above young adult, but still abrasive enough, and thought provoking in the best of literary ways - sucked me in completely. The in between chapters were heartbreaking, some even more the others, and added a beautiful collectiveness to the overall story.
“I know some people here think we’re trying to take over, but we just want to be a part of it. We want to have our stake. This is our home, too.”
Sometimes you have to uproot your life and start over. Everybody's reason is different, but all of them valid. Sometimes you stay rooted in new place, weathering all the storms, and sometimes you can't, and the wind blows you away. The Book of Unknown Americans is a beautiful piece of a hard lives collected in 300+ pages. It's well worth the read.
I'm not that impressed? I read a lot of novellas, but this one left me a bit dissatisfied.
I enjoyed the writing immensely, but Binti is way too short. It's tiny. It's literally almost a short story. There was substance in it - it was detailed and well built, but it just wasn't enough to be fully invested in.
I didn't care for Binti as a character, because she felt very one dimensional to me. She can be described int three words - mathematics, her hair and otijze (the clay mix she wears on her skin). There is no substance to her beyond that. Those things define her a 100%. The whole mathematical aspect was weird, because it wasn't explained deeply enough.
I did enjoy the message the novella was portraying - how it feels to be different, and how horrible the world is for only seeing your physical differences, instead of focusing on who you really are.
I will pick up Binti Home, because my library has it. That one is larger, so hopefully I will be invested in it.
I read 20 pages from Binti Home and couldn't care less about anything. Also, I realized how basic and dull the dialog is. That one is a DNF for me, unfortunately. I just don't see what all the fuss is about with these novellas.
“We shouldn't have to go around congratulating each other for behaving with basic human dignity.”
This is the most uniquely structured fantasy I've ever had the pleasure of reading. But what blew me away, and I mean BLEW ME AWAY was the writing. Holy moly guacamole Bancroft can write! Wow. I want to frame random sentences from this book just because of how beautifully sound and graceful they are. Pure literary ecstasy.
“Senlin loved nothing more in the world than a warm hearth to set his feet upon and a good book to pour his whole mind into. While an evening storm rattled the shutters and a glass of port wine warmed in his hand, Senlin would read into the wee hours of the night. He especially delighted in the old tales, the epics in which heroes set out on some impossible and noble errand, confronting the dangers in their path with fatalistic bravery. Men often died along the way, killed in brutal and unnatural ways; they were gored by war machines, trampled by steeds, and dismembered by their heartless enemies. Their deaths were boastful and lyrical and always, always more romantic than real. Death was not an end. It was an ellipsis. There was no romance in the scene before him. There were no ellipses here. The bodies lay upon the ground like broken exclamation points.”
Because of the beautiful writing all the ugly things that this book brings to life seem so sudden and brutal, but also hazy - a chilling combination. Also, the humor was quite good. Senlin Ascends as a debut is phenomenal. Senlin Ascends as a fantasy is brilliant. Cannot wait to see where Tom takes me next, as there have been some unexpected turns.
Only rounding down because I'm not a big fan of books keeping all of its action-y bits till the very end - it overwhelms me.
p.s. And there better be an explanation on Edith in the next book, because WUT? How? Wut?
“I’m going to feel very weak and you’re going to feel very dumb. But that’s how it always is in the beginning. Learning starts with failure.”
After absolutely loving Frey's first suspense novel that I binge read in one day last year, Not Her Daughter, I am more than disappointed with this one.
Here's the thing - the writing is quite on point, I also binge read this in one day, and whoever edited this did an amazing job, because for an arc copy this was flawless (grammatically, and it always makes me so happy), but either the topic, or the execution of this is horribly wrong.
If I sound like I'm not sure, it's because I'm not. I just don't know what the author was going for, honestly. And I can only hope that she wasn't going for what I'm hoping she wasn't going for. Makes sense, no? Good. I don't want to spoil anything till the book comes out on August 6th, 2019.
Sure, Because You're Mine is compulsive and readable, but when you stop and actually think about it - it’s just a huge mess, with a very far fetched twist that only works if you consider ALL of the narrators completely unreliable.
If you believe all of the narrators then the whole book and the part when the twists happens (the very ending) are two very separate things that lack cohesiveness. It would have worked if the twist was tied together to something substantial at the beginning. Maybe an anonymous opening by that person - so the reader can actually be on track with the events and when the twist does come, it wouldn't feel like something thought of at the very last second, but a plot all along.
Sure, there are hints, but the narration itself contradicts them. Also, the way everything ended made me think that the author condones that kind of behavior? Don't get me wrong, I love a dark novel told from a psychotic perspective - it's chillingly refreshing, just read Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent. That book is a great example of how very, very bad people are presented very, very well. Because you're Mine just left a very bad taste in my mouth after I was done with it.
Structure wise, I was very annoyed with the age old trick of "hey this character has a secret, but I'm not going to reveal it until later one so you will just have to keep reading". The novel didn't give you anything but empty promises and filler material till 38%. Many people would have given up by that point. Speaking of filler, the book is full of it. Some chapters were nothing but filler, that were only there to postpone the big reveals, to stretch the page count.
I loved the character of Mason, he's so pure and hilarious, but by the end of the story the focus shifted so far away from him, that I was left wondering - was his "condition" just for the diversity check point? Why wasn't it explained more, especially when the past was brought up?
I will be able to divulge more into details (especially on who I think was the true victim of this story) and spoilers after the book is published in the end of summer of 2019. Big thanks to the publisher St. Martin's Press for an early digital copy of the book provided via NetGalley
All of you giving this book such low rating must be tripping.
Nah, just kidding, all opinions are valid, and personally I enjoyed it SO MUCH.
The whole thing was phenomenal. Brilliant even. Except chapter 78. There was no need for that, that's just tacky. Negative reviews are valid. No need to attack people who give books bad reviews.
I didn't take any notes for this one, because I just wanted to read a book without thinking about anything. Without constructing criticisms, and deconstructing characters and objectifying the plot. I just wanted to lose myself in somebody else's problems, so I could stop thinking about my own. And I knew Moriarty could give that to me. And boy did she deliver!!
Nine Perfect Strangers was so different from all of her other books (and yes I read ALL of her other books). This book is a wild card. A mushroom trip. A rollercoaster of human physche and its very unraveling. And boy was it FUN! Also, kind of scary!
I love how all of her books, no matter how deranged the plot line is, always carry a darker, deeper undertone of something serious. Something that needs to be talked about. She tackles all of these hard subjects with such poise and accuracy. And this was no exception. I don't want to reveal the topic, because I don't want to spoil anything, so excuse my vagueness.
Also, how is it possible that I related to all 9 of the characters? How did I find something of myself in each of them? I feel personally attached. It's like she KNOWS me. Honestly the book was a 5 star for me, if not for chapter 78. I'd tear the page out, if it wasn't a library book.
If I keep this up, I will be known as that girl who only gives books 2 star (or lower) ratings. But what can I do, if I keep picking the wrong books to read??
me: okay, so we have a little girl, probably around 6 years old...
the book: no, no, no Heloise is a woman of 16 winters!
me: are you sure, because she doesn't act much like one...
the book: she's a woman grown of 16!!
me: ok, but ...
the book: she's 16!!
me: .........whatever dude, she's 6 and you know it.
My point is, that having a character repeating their age doesn't actually make them that age. Maybe the author was trying to reassure himself that he knows how to write a teenage female character, while in truth he does not.
This was such a miss for me that I don't even want to write this review. I don't think I have one positive thing to say about it? Well, the writing was good. Minus the action sequences, those were a mess. I liked Twitch. And I did enjoy one whole chapter out of the whole book, so yeah.
I am just so tired of male authors trying to write books with teenage girls as protagonists, and failing hugely at it. Have you ever actually met a teenage girl in your life? Or do you just follow the "how to create a fantasy novel teenage girl protagonist for dummies" ?
Because apparently all girls don't ever just want to be girls. They want to be strong and manly, and ride around on horses chopping their enemies heads. They spur their mothers who are soft, and house-wifey and just not as cool as their fathers. Well you know what, you can chop enemies heads in the morning and still tidy up your house in the afternoon.
At first I was pleasantly surprised that Heloise (as a fantasy character) still had her father and her mother alive - what a rarity, not an orphan! But then she voiced just how much of a waste of space she thought her mother was, and how can she just sit home and do chores and never want any adventure, and I decided that it would have been better if her mother was dead. Because you know being JUST a mother and a wife is such a disgrace in a fantasy world.
For being only 200 pages long this book was so boring, it was astonishing. The beginning seemed promising, for a few pages, till a whole load of random names, professions, religious beliefs and more was dumped on a reader in a span of, oh I don't know 5 pages. The world was trying to be too big, while showing so very little. And it can work in a novella, but it just didn't work in this one.
Also, what is up with Heloise's constant rage? It was the driving force of the whole book, but it was never explained. Was she raging because of her "teenage" hormones?? Was she raging because there was a bigger reason inside of her for it? Did she have anger issues? Was she bi-polar? You know if Heloise wasn't so stupid, and thought before she acted at least once, this book could have been so much shorter. Because EVERYTHING in this book happened thanks to Heloise. Because she couldn't control her stupid self.
It goes like this: Heloise does something stupid - her father protects her. She then does something stupider, her father protects her. She then, yep, does something stupid again (puts the entire village in danger) and look here's her father running to protect her. If she was supposed to portray a brave young woman, well I didn't get that. Bravery is not always running into danger head first, bravery is knowing when to shut up sometimes, a concept very foreign to Heloise.
And don't get me started on her getting into that armor that was meant for a grown, trained soldier and just kicking ass in it, without having any physical strength, knowledge about how to fight, and training whatsoever. How convenient.
Besides me hating Heloise as the main character, or as I dubbed her, the idiot - the book didn't do anything for me. I felt no emotion, no connection, no interest - the only good thing about this book was that I finished it.
!!! Spoilers !!!
I have never seen a book struggle so much to fill its pages with content. Young Jane Young is a waste of paper, and I am not speaking figuratively.
I don't know what I was expecting from this book, but this wasn't it. This was a mess.
The book is broken into points of view of 4 people, and a third person narrative for some stupid reason, but later on that.
Rachel, who is main character's mother, is the nastiest, most horrible, selfish and just plain icky person. You know I thought that I loved messed up characters, but I might only love them if Liz Nugent (an author of Lying in Wait, highly recommend) writes them, because I despised Rachel. I guess her point of view was "interesting", but I did not enjoy it. And the time hops, ohh the time hops - is it so hard to mark your chapters with "past" and "present" ?? Time hops were only present in Rachel's chapters, which was ridiculous, and so unnecessary. Blergh. Needless to say that I was happy hen it switched over to Jane.
Jane's point of view is actually the only one I really enjoyed. But I do have to say that she paints herself in much better light than she really is. Although, I didn't blame her at all. Not till the 3rd person narrative started. Jane's point of view made me think that this book could be good, that I could give it maybe 3.5 rating (which now seems so foolishly generous to me). But things got bad.
Things got bad with Ruby. First of all - the format switch. Why? It was told in emails between Ruby and her pen pal from Indonesia, who literally had no voice or relevance in the story except for being the recipient of these emails (by the way, when the book ended there was not a single mention of the pen pal, proving that it was a thoughtless addition to the story). Then there's Ruby. Her chapters were filled with USELESS ramblings and trivia pieces on things that I literally gave zero fucks about. It's so obvious that the author only had about 150 pages factual content for this book, but to fill the page requirements filled it with useless crap.
But it gets worse. But first, Embeth. I liked her point of view too, but there just wasn't enough of it to paint her as a cohesive character. Plus the parrot thing was so stupid! Okay, if she had more page time and was more developed - it would maybe have been touching (and that's stretching it). Is she lovely? Is she literally going crazy? We will never know.
Now, dear readers, for the last 30 percent of the book let me rehash the whole story in 3rd person, while adding small details of the missing plot. Ah, also it's a game. Sort of. Also, I have no content so some pages will only contain one paragraph of the information you already know, and some even just one fucking sentence on the whole page! - this is what I imagine went in the author's head, while she was writing it, because I see no other explanation.
For the book that was heavy on feminist agenda, none of the women really represented a strong female character. I'm not even going to try and dissect Rachel, because I've erased her from my memory. Rachel who?
Jane was stupid. Okay, yes we all make mistakes. Yes, we're allowed to, yes we're human. But we also learn from the mistakes, hopefully. It took painfully looooooooooong time for Jane to learn anything. Also, if you don't want to be labeled as a slut (whether you're a woman or a man), well maybe don't act like one? Yes, you can be forthcoming and confident in your sexuality and you don't have to answer to anybody for what you do and with who you do it.
But you still have to have some semblance of morals, no? Not once did she think that she was ruining a family. Not once did she think about the wife (okay Levin told her that he and his wife were on the rocks, but why would you believe a cheating man's word is beyond me). Because you want to believe it, because it quiets your conscience, what little of it you have. Okay, she did think about those things, but only in relation to her - how it affected her, not how it affected the wife or the sons.
Frannie never found the guts to leave her abusive husband. Ruby sold out her own mother. Rachel sold out her own daughter. Embeth chose love, one sided as it was. Roz believed the lies of her new boyfriend over the words of her life long friend. Literally, none of those women know what solidarity is. Or what it means to support other women.
Also, why Jane never told Jorge? Why didn't he deserve to know about his daughter (side note, I thought Jorge was gay. So it was disappointing to find out the he turned out to be the father). And how on earth didn't he put two and two together when he talked with Embeth about it?
Just in case it wasn't clear from my review - I was not a fan.
Ohh, almost forgot about the ending. The reader gets to decide how it ends - did she win the election, did she not? WE WILL NEVER KNOW.
DNF at page 67
So, I'm going to go ahead and let this one go.
It's been a long time coming. I've tried reading this book. I tried enjoying every little piece of information, every little unnecessary detail, every little boring conversation in hopes that it will all become important in the end. And they well might, but I will never know. And I am okay with that.
I wanted to try and pick my books very carefully, so I can avoid abandoning books. But, I just must. Why should I spend my time (what little of it I have) to keep reading a book in which I see no point? Which stirs no emotion in me whatsoever?
When there are books out there that captivate me from the first page. From the first sentence even! I gave this book 67 pages of my time (some days I could only read 2 pages before falling asleep. From boredom or exhaustion? Who knows, probably both).
I tried looking at my notes to write the review, but all it says is that I'm bored, and that nothing is grabbing my attention. The only thing I was interested in was the actual dystopian world they lived in, and the "donations" - but nothing, and I mean really nothing was said about those. Just bare mentions - teasers if you will. That more information will come later, that everything will be explained. Well you know what, Kathy (the main narrator) I don't have time for that.
There's a person at my library who put a hold on this book after me, so I'm going to go ahead and return it early. Hopefully they will enjoy it much more than I did. Meanwhile I'm going to go and try to shake off the feeling of imminent book slump that this book has put me in.
Don't judge the book by its... name, am I right? But, yes there are indeed some erotic stories in there, but there is also so much more.
The book lured me in immediately - Nikki and Mindi and their mother were such a relatable combo. I especially loved the deep contrast between sisters. But my favorite story arc was that of Kurumpal and her family. Her first days in England and how she tried to speak English and be more "British" and all the perils that come from being an immigrant, trying to navigate this whole new world - was all very relatable to me.
I must mention that the pacing of this is very, very slow. I got at least a 100 pages in before I started seeing the actual underlines of a plot taking place. I think this might be due to the book trying to be too many things at once - the book had an agenda of liberating women in their sexuality, sure, but it also tried to play out a mystery angle as well as being just a regular good chick-lit. It did not succeed completely in any of those areas, but the ending and the overall feel of the book was wrapped up amiably, so I still ended up enjoying it.
I also had trouble seeing how this would be empowering to any woman, as for the good half of the book all of the women (particularly widows) were pretty much, well bitches. Bringing somebody else down does not empower you - it's not how women's empowerment works, and I think sometimes the book got lost in hurtful stereotypes, and while it tried to break some of them, it definitely imposed even more of them on.
Now onto the juicy stuff - the erotic stories. Or "the super awkward cringy stories". Because that's what they were, I honestly enjoyed only about 3 stories out of all of them, and the first few ones that were told were completely awful and not sexy at all. The story of Rita and Meera was the only one that stuck with me as being moderately sexy.
I think the reason that erotic stories came out awkward was because it felt as if the author was using those stories for a shock value of a giant contrast between extreme modesty of Sikhs and the extreme rowdiness that some of the widows showed. It just didn't feel plausible.
If I'm being honest the 1st half of the book and the second one felt like they were written by a different person. First - awkward and cringy, without a clear plot, relaying heavily onto stereotypes to highlight the wrongs of a strict and closeted community. Second - plot centered, more fluid and open minded about both the modern Punjabi women and traditional ones (although traditionalism was still sort of frowned upon).
There is a dark undercurrent that runs under these stories, which I really appreciated, but also felt that it could have been explored just a tad bit more. In the end I ended up enjoying Kurumpal and Mindy the most. Kurumpal moving on with her life and obtaining the confidence she felt she lacked all of her life was truly empowering. And Mindy, while such a small example, was a great point of how traditional isn't bad, as long as you approach it correctly.
In the end I enjoyed the book and it's something that will stick with me for sure, but is it worth the GIANT hype wave that it got? No, not really. The writing is very mediocre, and there were few insensitive things in here that I can definitely see being offensive to people of this culture. I am not one of them and I still found them offensive.
(it's important to mention that this rating is for the audio book. If I read the physical copy I'd have probably given this 3.75 stars)
Seanan McGuire and me don't go well together, apparently. I was perfectly content in giving up this series after book one (which I gave 2.25 stars to), but then I saw an audio book of it on Libby and thought "why not?". Big mistake.
I was ready to DNF the audio book of this after about 30 seconds in. After the marvelous narrations of McLeod Andrews and Rebecca Soler (of the two previous books that I audio'd) this felt like nails on a chalkboard.
Now, I know it's probably unbelievably rude to say this, as the book is narrated by the author herself, but that is just how it felt. For starters, she reads way too fast. I could only listen to small chunks of it before getting a huge headache from concentrating so hard (and yes, rewinding sometimes). And I thought I was a fast talker! Then, she inhales audibly before reading a particularly large chunk of a paragraph in that one breath. Cringe! Lastly, the volume - some things are read so low that I had to turn up my volume, and then immediately followed by the loudest screeching in my ear causing me to lower it down immediately. And then repeat the whole process.
However, after about an hour or so it seemed that she found her perfect speed and slowed down a bit - so at least I was able to listen to it without giving myself a giant headache.
So that was my experience with the audio of this book. Would I have liked it better if I read it instead of listening? Yes. But the whole point of me giving this series another chance was because audio book didn't require anything of me and I could listen to it without taking away from my actual reading time.
I also should mention the main reason of why I'm not a good audience for these books - the "telling not showing" style does not work for me. At all. If I'm reading a fantasy book (be it a novel, or a novella in this case) I don't want to be told of an adventure - I want to experience it. I don't want to be pointedly reminded of reasons why things are happening, or how am I as a reader should be reacting to these things.
For a book that short Down Among the Sticks and Bones felt extremely repetitive. I cannot even begin to count how many times something about "sisters drifting further apart because of their parents" was mentioned. Over and over again. Yes, their parents are dicks. Yes I get it, I can make these connections all on my own, now move on with the plot, please.
All of that negativity aside, I did enjoy the story itself. I liked the atmosphere, and I liked the bleakness of it all. I liked Jack, a lot. I did not like Jill. At all. I liked Dr. Bleak, of course. I hated their parents, who wouldn't?
As with Every Heart a Doorway, I found something to really dislike - Jack's complete inability to physically interact. Now, don't get me wrong - I absolutely get why she was like that, and for the most part I was really on board with it. But what I couldn't condone is Jack thinking that her "condition" was absolutely justified and that Alexis had to just live with it. She didn't think of Alexis's feelings, or how Alexis needed pure uncovered physical contact just as much as Jack couldn't give it to her. And I mean "bath, tooth brushing, flossing and medical exam" (WTF??) before she would even touch her girlfriend? If that is not messed up, I don't know what is.
I'm not sure if I'll continue further along with the series, I might. I am truly curious about the characters and the plot intertwining throughout all of the books, it's just the execution of it all is what I'm not so keen on. But we will see.