Review- Rubyfruit Jungle

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

165395“Why would people get upset over something that feels so good? Me being a queer can’t hurt anyone, why should it be such a terrible thing?”

cw: suicide mention, homophobia, transphobia

This book is about coming out, I mean really coming out, in a world against anything different, or “queer”. Queer is such an inclusive term now, it encompasses so many forms of oppression (eg sexuality, race, class, gender identity, etc) and really shows how they all intertwine in a system of institutional biases. But for the main character of this book, Molly, it’s a derogatory term for people who are attracted to the same gender as themselves.

**spoiler ahead**
Molly discovers that she likes women during her early middle school years, but continues seeing men well into her adult life. The thing I love about Molly is that she simply doesn’t care what other people think and tries to not put a permanent label on herself. Towards the end of the book, she does call herself a lesbian, but it takes her many sexual experiences to get to that point. I admire her for staying true to herself the entire novel
**end spoiler**
What I really love about this book is that its a real coming out novel. Molly faces homophobia from everyone around her– her parents, counselors, and friends. I really felt for Molly and experienced the pain of rejection along with her. Molly was so determined to never let other people get to her, and that made me proud to be feeling these emotions with her.

Although this novel is set in the middle 1900’s, LGBT youth and adults still face these problems today. This really opened up my eyes to how much things haven’t changed in the past 50 years. Yes, lesbians are not constantly called “dykes” and “queers” in a derogatory way, but homophobia and transphobia still exist in the everyday world. LGBT youth are 7 times more likely to attempt suicide that straight youth because of this very reason. Although I can absolutely admit that we have come far in the gay movement, there is still a lot of work to be done. I praise Rita Mae Brown for writing such a powerful novel about the struggles of coming out in this world and hope to read more books like this one.

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Review- The Book of Strange New Things

The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber

Rating: 4.5/5

20697435“Never forget the Book. Never, never. The Book our rock, our hope, our redeemer.”

Peter, after intense examination and a series of personality tests, is selected to go on a mission in space. He is chosen to serve as a catholic priest for a colony of humans living on an extraterrestrial planet. He has no idea what, or who, to expect on this mission, but he knows that spreading the word of God is one of the most important jobs of every Christian. With that in mind, he is not afraid to preach the verses of the Bible to whoever is willing to listen on this new planet.

Yeah, that was a pretty broad synopsis…but I have to be really careful with my words or I might spoil something big. So, please, allow that fragment of a plot summary to suffice for this review.

This book started out extremely slowly. I almost put it down about 50 pages in. I’m glad I kept going because it starts to get interesting and creepy around page 100. The books starts flying after that and it’s really hard to put down. Peter is really annoying at first, which is why it’s hard to get past the first hundred pages, but I came to like him.

I was initially interested in this book because people seemed to have such a hard time placing it into one specific genre. I’d say that this is definitely science fiction, with a touch of horror and thriller. Those three make for a great and captivating read!

I was really, really disappointed with the ending. It felt extremely unsatisfying and a bit confusing, even after re-reading the last chapter a few times. There are so many things/lessons that Faber could have finished with, but he just hastily wrapped it up without giving the reader a good sense of conclusion.

Still, this was a great read and I’m happy it was at the top of my 2015 TBR. A good way to start off the year!

Sunday Book Recommendation 1/25

Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott

779576I should probably re-read this book before I recommend it to people on the internet (thanks for reading my stuff, by the way!). The last time I read this was during my sophomore year in high school and I don’t think I fully understood it’s meaning. I’ll read it again soon and probably update this review.

Although it’s subtitled “A Romance of Many Dimensions”, this book is no romance. It’s definitely science fiction and philosophy mixed together. The novel is told by a character named A. Square who is, quite literally, a square. A. Square tells us of his life in Flatland, a 2-dimensional world, and what this place looks like to the triangles, circles, and hexagons, and other polygons living there.

The book opens with, “I call our world Flatland, not because I call it so, but to make its nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in Space.” Essentially, this book is just A. Square explaining the rules and limitations of Flatland (and Lineland!), like a manual. There is no central plot line, but with each rule of Flatland explained, A. Square has a little story to go along with it.

This certainly falls under a strange, mathematical genre of science fiction. It’s a pretty short read (150 pages) and very easy to finish in one night. A. Square has a sense of humor in his narration, which adds to the lightness of the book. If you have a free night or long afternoon, please try to pick up this book!

Review- Neverwhere

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Pages: 370     Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Neverwhere(1)“What’s it like being dead? It’s very cold, my friend. Very dark, and very cold.”

Richard Mayhew lives a boring life in London, working at a job that doesn’t seem to interest him and engaged to a woman who isn’t right for him. He comes across a girl named Door, bleeding and helpless on the side of the road, and decides to bring her back to his apartment. Through meeting Door, Richard is thrown into London Below, another version of London full of people who “fell through the cracks”. He turns invisible to everyone from his old life, but he meets incredible people living below– Rat-speakers, beast hunters, and bird sellers. Richard and Door embark on a journey to avenge Door’s family and help Richard get back to London Above; a life far less interesting than the one he has below.

This is such a classic Gaiman novel. I’ve come to love Urban Fantasy through reading his novels. If someone were to ask me what urban fantasy is, I’d just hand them this novel in silence. There’s no way to put it in words. People who have read any of Gaiman’s novels will know what I’m talking about.

This book is great. Richard is the perfect protagonist who you kinda hate for being so annoying but end up rooting for him by the end of the novel. Door, too, is a protagonist and a strong female character. I often find books that are centered around a male character and consequently fail to represent any female power. Door is, in fact, very powerful and an important character not just for Richard, but for the novel in general. Yay for prominent female characters!

It was interesting reading the discussion questions at the end of the book/interview with Neil Gaiman. He says that that the novel can be read as a satire and commentary on the lower class and homeless populations living in London today. I definitely didn’t read the book that way, but it’s an interesting point of view. I might go back and skim this novel with this new lens on it!

Review- Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
Pages: 127          Rating: 5/5 stars

41grAYBhp6L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_“…You’ve got to understand that a seagull is an unlimited idea of freedom, an image of the Great Full, and your whole body, form wingtip to wingtip, is nothing more than your thought itself.”

As a disclaimer–this book wasn’t originally on my January book list. My dad and I were at the bookstore and he insisted that he would buy it for me. He literally would not let me leave the store without this book. I am so happy I decided to read Jonathan Livingston Seagull this month instead of feeling guilty by having it stare down at me from my shelves. I will definitely be taking more book recommendations from my dad.

Jonathan Seagull is well, a seagull, who does not fit in with his flock. Rather than focusing on catching fish for dinner and other things that seagulls normally do, Jonathan loves to fly. He loves learning how to do tricks and trying to beat his nosedive record of over 100 mph. Upon seeing how different Jonathan is, his flock declares him an Outcast and leave Jonathan alone and without a family. Jonathan is taken in by another flock of seagulls, a colony of outcasts who, like him, live to fly. There he learns how to master his body and mind and discovers what it means to be free.

Although the plot summary of this novel paints it to be very shallow, this book means so much more than an outcast seagull discovering how to fly really fast. Trust me. The novel serves as a beautiful commentary on both society and religion, depending on how you want to view Jonathan and what he believes is heaven.

This book is one of the most definite 5 star ratings I’ve ever given. I think I may have to go back and read it a few more times before I fully understand it, though. Bach uses a wonderful story about a seagull discovering his passion for flight to analyze social constructs that exist everywhere today. The themes in this book are countless, but I can’t write about them without spoiling the plot. Like I said, I’m so glad that I bumped this book up on my reading list. I loved it.

Sunday Book Recommendation 1/18

beautiful-book-covers-15Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 

Yes, this is a classic novel and yes, it’s almost 1,000 pages. Please, PLEASE, don’t let that turn you away from this golden work. I read this for my freshman year of college and, let me tell you, there was so much groaning over the sight of this book. But, after about 50 pages, no one whined about it anymore.

Tolstoy is a genius with words and literary devices. He can take 5 full pages to explain what it feels like to sit and spend the day on an electric grass mower and somehow not bore the reader. That takes talent.

There’s no way for me to even begin a summary of Anna Karenina. There are so many different plot lines going on that take place in different families and countries. I can’t even pick one theme to focus this recommendation on, because there simply are too many.

What I found really interesting about Anna Karenina is how it was written. An entire character with this own central storyline, Levin, was not part of the original novel. Tolstoy finished the book without a mention of Levin, re-read his draft, and decided to add a whole new character. The storylines flow so well that it’s hard to imagine the world without Levin.

In conclusion, please do not let the length of Anna Karenina stop you from reading it. It truly is a literary masterpiece that I will (try) to read again in the future.

Review- A Little Something Different

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

A_Little_Something_Different_for_sitejpg

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Pages: 243

“This is going to be another one of those stories about how she gazed at him adoringly while he stared out the window or something. That’s how a lot of the Gabe stories go these days.”

Lea and Gabe are both incoming freshmen at the same college. They’re sort of “lost souls”, living their own separate lives that have absolutely nothing to do with each other, until they start “flirting” in creative writing class. Lea and Gabe are completely oblivious to the fact that they’re perfect for each other, but that doesn’t their separate friend groups from constantly trying to set them up together.

**spoiler ahead**
This book was cute. It was definitely very cute and very-perfect-couple-heavily-flirting type of deal. It was fun at first, but things got a little too predictable towards the end. I felt like a lot of the same ideas and conversations were happening over and over again. Lea and Gabe ALMOST got together so many times. It was frustratingly adorable at first, but then it got old.

A Little Something Different was a very quick and light read. It was a good book, but a good book for the right time. I read this in the midst of a reading slump, and its cheer definitely brought me out of that slump. So, if you’re looking for a fast read that’ll leave you feeling happy, this is it.