Tag Archives: feminism

ARC Review – We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Title: We Set the Dark on Fire

Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.

On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

Huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy We Set the Dark on Fire. I love books with feminist angles and I love unique world building, which this book has in spades. However, there were things about it that definitely kept it from being a favourite.

I want to talk first about the aspects that I liked. First was the setting and particularly the Medio School and it’s weird cult-like behaviour. I loved reading the bits from the handbook and I loved the sinister feeling that came anytime Mejia wrote about this organization and how the females in it were oppressed. There was such a good level of creep factor here that definitely gave me Handmaid’s Tale vibes. I also loved the fast, hard, feminist angle this book has, as there is this amazing build towards uprising that I think just works in the story so so so well.

I think the hardest part for me with this book was the writing. I found that while the world was very interesting and colourful, not seeing it through Dani’s eyes was difficult for me. I think the third person narration just didn’t work for me at all, and I think for a lot of the more difficult or high pressure moments in the story, the third person perspective removed a lot of the agency for me. I would have loved to have a sense of Dani’s feelings, her discomfort, and her drive to survive this weird dystopian world.

I wasn’t also entirely sold right away on the forbidden romance, especially because I struggled with the character in question. I generally don’t mind a hate-to-love relationship but again parts of it just didn’t work for me. It made me happy because I’m all for these types of stories being told and I think there is a lot of value in them, and towards the end of the book, I found myself setting into the romance and it grew on me.

We Set the Dark on Fire is an interesting debut where I found myself loving the world-building and the creep factor, but the characters fell short for me. I wish I liked these characters more because I found myself not really connecting with any of them, even in their times of distress. I think those looking for an interesting and different kind of dystopian story, will definitely enjoy this one.

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Four Feminist Reads You Should Check Out

I have had a new obsession lately: it’s reading books about prominent women and their accomplishments. There are so many great microhistory reads out there regarding women and how they have changed the world for the better, how they fought for their rights or created something to better the world. I find this books so thoughtful, educational, and I think they are great introductions to women that you may not have heard of. Here’s five that I recently enjoyed, and I encourage you to check out.

She Persisted
by Chelsea Clinton & Alexandra Boiger

This is such a beautifully written picture book that looks at the accomplishments and can-do attitude of thirteen American women and how they were told they couldn’t do something, and they persisted. The women portrayed in this book are ones who spoke out about injustice, prejudice, who believed in kindness and strength. The illustrations in this book are so beautiful, and there’s also sequel that just released looking at women worldwide. This book features such amazing women as Harriet Tubman,  Nellie Bly, and Sally Ride!

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World
by Pénélope Bagieu

This fantastic graphic novel provides a wonderful short story for each of the thirty-ish women portrayed in the book. Bagieu’s art is absolutely delightful and expressive, and she chooses a lot of women who have either been neglected for their accomplishments, or ladies who just didn’t give a flying hoot about being recognized because for them it was about empowering others. These short biographical comics showcase the power and strength that women posses, and that’s pretty bad ass.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women by Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo

I discovered Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls from a friend of mine who had backed the Kickstarter for this series. I love the way this book is laid out, with over a hundred women, each with their own unique story. Each story is also written like a bedtime story, so if you’re a parent reading this book to a child, you could read a story a night with ease. There’s a heroine for every kind of reader in this book, and if you can’t find one to connect with, there’s even a sequel!

Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World
by Mackenzi Lee & Petra Eriksson

Bygone Badass Broads was a Twitter project started by author, Mackenzi Lee, who commented that there were far more amazing and forgotten women who in the world who made major contributions to society. One of my favourite ladies to learn about was Stagecoach Mary. She was such a badass and she was a favourite of the US Postal Service. Who knew, right? This book of fifty-two ladies offers women of all races, gender identities, and socio-economical backgrounds. It’s very informative and sports some gorgeous illustrations by Petra Eriksson!

If you want to learn more about female contributions and empowerment, I highly recommend reading all of the above. There’s so much diversity in each text, and it’s been so wonderful to learn about what women have accomplished over the years. Let’s continue to celebrate women more and what I hope is more books like the ones above, get into the hands of those who need them. Support women, believe women, we need more of these stories.

Girl Power Graphic Novels – Kicking Butt & Taking Names – Blog Tour

When I was growing up in the 90’s, there wasn’t a lot of female-led comics or graphic novels. A lot of the comics were geared towards boys, often making it feel like comics were for boys and girls were excluded. I still found myself reading and rereading The Adventures of Tintin by Herge and when I could find Wonder Woman in issues of the Justice League I was thrilled.

I still felt like comics were a boys club.

Then I discovered manga, and it was something I constantly devoured. Marmalade Boy, Fushigi Yuugi, NANA, Hellsing… I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. Even better, I had made friends who loved manga as much as I did and we would constantly trade back and forth with each other.

It wasn’t until towards the end of high school and early into my university career that I fell back in love with comics. My then-to-be-husband was constantly introducing me to a variety of graphic novels and comics, He helped me fall back in love with Wonder Woman, and taught me so much about Marvel comics. We shared our manga collection and both cried when we found out that NANA wasn’t being completed.

Girls are much more fortunate now than I was growing up. There are so many inspirational female characters in comics, from Cleopatra in the Cleopatra in Space series, or Zita from Zita the Space Girl. First Second has constantly been pushing the boundaries for young girls being able to see themselves in comics and graphic novels more and more. I thought I’d share with you why you should check out some of their girl powered graphic novels!

Cucumber Quest Vol 1: Doughnut Kingdom by Gigi D.G

Why You Should Read It: This series is about a boy named Cucumber who simply wants to be a magician, go to school and just not get into any trouble. However, with world domination inbound, Cucumber and his best friend Almond set out to help everyone in Dreamside to keep them safe.

While Cucumber is a cute main character, the star of this graphic novel series is easily Almond. She’s funny, stubborn, tough-as-nails, and constantly fighting baddies with a smile on her face. Almond is crazy, but has such a good heart, and will do everything she can to protect the people she cares about, and from Cucumber making himself look bad.  I laughed a lot reading the first two volumes of Cucumber Quest, and I easily cannot wait to continue with this series and share it with the middle graders at the library!

Giants Beware! (Chronicles of Claudette #1) by Jorge Aguirre & Rafael Rosado

Why You Should Read It: Brave, yet completely crazy, it’s hard not to love Claudette. Finding a magical sword that always her to slay anything is amazing when you are a tiny little girl with aspirations of being a defender.

I mean seriously, LOOK AT CLAUDETTE’S GRIN. The girl is fearless and has no problem beating baddies into submission. In all honesty though, what I loved about the three volumes in this series is Claudette has such a sense of justice about her, and when she punishes the bad guys it’s never malicious… if anything she even will try a friendship tactic! Claudette would do anything for the people she cares about, and that alone makes her an admirable heroine to love.

Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter by Marcus Sedgwick & Thomas Taylor 

Why You Should Read It: Let me introduce you all to Scarlett Hart. Monster Hunter by trade, Scarlett is cunning, clever, and intelligent, using more than just brawn to deal with mummies, monsters, and ghouls. Scarlett is an inquisitive heroine, which makes her a lot different from Almond or Claudette. Scarlett needs to think situations through, and needs to be able to calculate an outcome in her head before simply jumping blindly into a problem. She’s the kind of heroine who is serious, but you’d want her on your team because you know she’ll have your back.


I hope you enjoyed my stop on the blog tour. Please consider checking out these great comics published by First Second, be it buying them from your local bookstore or borrowing them from your local library. Remember: comics were never a boys club, and there are so many amazing and inspiring ladies not only creating great comics, but wonderful heroines to fall in love with.

If you want more out of this blog tour, consider checking out all the other stops and see what other bloggers consider to be girl powered graphic novels!

ARC Review – Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Title: Moxie

Author: Jennifer Mathieu

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

This is a book I want in the hands of every young girl. I wish I had this book when I was growing up. Moxie is a book about girl power, girl friendship and the need to band together to fight injustice. Once again, Jennifer Mathieu has written a damned winner with this book, and if this doesn’t become mandatory reading for young feminists, I may cry.

Vivian is an amazing heroine who gets fed up with the sexism that exists in her school. Girls being told to go home and “make a sandwich” to trying to deny the existence of sexual assault, Viv can’t take it anymore. What does she do? She channels her inner Riot Grrl and creates “Moxie” a zine that focuses on the importance of banding together against injustice and to fight the rampant sexism that exists at East Rockport High. Vivian begins to start a hidden movement, with girls being able to find their voice.

HOLY CRAP THIS BOOK. I read this book in two full sittings and was completely glued the story. Mathieu does an amazing job building every action and consequence in this story. There is this fantastic build in the story that makes you want to get to the climax and then see how everything falls into place. This is a girl friendship book and that is the larger focus in this story, and it’s amazing because you see supportive girls, you see them protecting each other, wanting to do what is right. Even the romance with Seth in this book is done well. I love how he makes such a huge mistake and Viv doesn’t just cave to it — she wants him to learn and wants him to build his understanding. She calls him out, and we need more of that. Women calling men out for their crap.

Moxie is an amazing read, and easily a favourite. I loved the characters, the friendship and the power of feminism that exists in this story. I can only hope this gets turned into a film or at least ending up in the hands of girls who need this understanding, this pick me up, this reminder that we need to stick together. Thank you, Jennifer Mathieu for continuing to write books that challenge, intrigue — if you keep writing, I’ll keep reading.

ARC Review – Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

18114921Title: Salvage

Author: Alexandra Duncan

 

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Ava is the captain’s daughter. This allows her limited freedoms and a certain status in the Parastrata’s rigid society-but it doesn’t mean she can read or write or even withstand the forces of gravity. When Ava learns she is to be traded in marriage to another merchant ship, she hopes for the best. After all, she is the captain’s daughter. Betrayal, banishment, and a brush with love and death are her destiny instead, and Ava stows away on a mail sloop bound for Earth in order to escape both her past and her future. The gravity almost kills her. Gradually recuperating in a stranger’s floating cabin on the Gyre, a huge mass of scrap and garbage in the Pacific Ocean, Ava begins to learn the true meaning of family and home and trust-and she begins to nourish her own strength and soul. This sweeping and harrowing novel explores themes of choice, agency, rebellion, and family and, after a tidal wave destroys the Gyre and all those who live there, ultimately sends its main character on a thrilling journey to Mumbai, the beating heart of Alexandra Duncan’s post-climate change Earth.

Huge thank you to Greenwillow Books and Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review:

I picked this as one of my most highly anticipated books in 2015 and when I got to about 10% I was SO scared that I wasn’t going to like it. The beginning is a bit difficult to get into. The writing in this entire book is rich and layered and incredibly intricate and detailed. Ava, and her people, have their own form of English. The rules are never fully explained, and the social structure that Ava knows is shown, never really explained. So if you aren’t willing to work a little bit to get into this book, then you might have trouble with it. THANKFULLY I was able to get into it and it just FLOWED from there.

I made the mistake of reading a few reviews on here before reading this and had a small part of it spoiled. So when I got to a certain point in the book I was SO scared about how it was going to work based on the spoiler. And I feel that this is how my entire relationship with this book was. Ava would make choices that made me go NO DO NOT DO THAT OMG PLEASE DON’T DO THAT because she was heading into directions that really turn me off in the YA genre. Thankfully every time it seemed that the book was going to head into a undesirable direction, it made good choices, right choices, and satisfying choices. I have never been so pleased so many times in a single book.

This is basically a story about a girl growing up. Ava was born and raised in space, on a ship that travels between a space port above Earth, and Mars. Her ship has it’s own unique culture, which we later find out was a product of time and isolation. Women have children, cook, clean, do simple jobs, and aren’t allowed to learn how to read, write, do math, or anything mechanical. Ava knows this and grows up looking forward to when she can become someone’s bride. The men take multiple wives and are allowed to travel between the space ship and Earth. Women are told that they can’t handle the Earth’s pull, but really it’s just that they aren’t allowed to keep their bodies in shape and therefore they are unable to physically handle gravity.

Ava is sent to be married but she gets caught in a scandal and is instead sentenced to death. She manages to escape and goes to Earth where she makes friends, suffers heartbreak, finds her only remaining family, and learns that women are capable of so much more than she ever imagined. She learns that she can use her skills and learn new things. That she can have a life and happiness.

I loved Ava. She walks a fine line between innocence and experience. She is so mature and naive at the same time. She is smart and thinks about her actions and even when she is irrational she later visits her mistakes and does the right thing. She loves with all of her heart and only wants to be loved in return. Her character development is amazing and I was so happy with every choice she made, right up to the very end of the book.

The rest of the characters are wonderful as well. The heartbreaks suffered are so real, and the world is so vivid. I love how it feels futuristic and dystopian at the same time. There are elements that are similar and familiar enough that this book is easy to picture, but I could also imagine it as a big-budget movie with lots of amazing special effects.

And the writing… it’s so lush and beautiful. Once I got used to the way Ava and her people spoke, I even began to enjoy it.

I highly recommend this. And don’t be fooled by the few reviews saying that there’s a love-triangle, there isn’t.