Review: The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood


The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale

Title: The Handmaid’s Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood

Release Date: March 16, 1985

Publisher: Anchor Books

Format: Paperback

Page Number: 311

Source: BF

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

3 out of 5 stars


I had such high hopes for this book, and they fell a little short. I am usually quite fond of dystopian novels, but this one was SO HARD for me to get into. It felt like every time I had to stop reading I left the world more than I usually do with books.

This novel follows Offred who is a Handmaid for her Commander and his wife. Her sole purpose is to get pregnant from the Commander, so then he and his wife can have a child. She gets held down once a month during her most fertile time while the Commander mindlessly has sex with her. She is the last hope for the Commander and his wife, but Offred can’t help but remember her own husband and her child from before this time of being a Handmaid.

The premise of this book is so unique and very interesting, but I don’t think the execution was what it could have been. Nothing happened until 250 pages in! I wanted some action, or at least a little plot. I felt bad for Offred, but I also was kind of confused while reading this. I don’t know the extent of her relationship with the Commander, and I’m sure that’s intentional, but I think too much was left unsaid for me to fully enjoy this book.

I might watch the TV show because I feel like this would translate much better with actors on a screen rather and words on a page, but I’m not going to jump right into it. Again, I really enjoyed the concept of this story, but it took way too long for anything to happen.

I was unsure about the purpose of the party other than the fact that she saw Moira again. Was that the whole reason? I feel like there had to be some underlying moral or message to that, but it must have just gone right over my head.

The ending seemed lackluster to me. She gives in to society and the people around her. I wanted a rebellion. I wanted SOMETHING to happen with her and the other people that were with her. I don’t knowwwwww. I wanted to love this. I really did.

All in all, I think this was an okay book. I enjoyed some parts of it, but I was mostly confused. I think part of it is that I didn’t like Margaret Atwood’s writing style. You should totally give this a try if you’re into dystopian, but maybe lower your expectations just a little tiny bit.

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Review: Jesus’ Son: Stories – Denis Johnson


Jesus’ Son: Stories – Denis Johnson

Jesus' Son: Stories

Title: Jesus’ Son: Stories

Author: Denis Johnson

Release Date: February 17, 1992

Publisher: Picador

Format: Paperback

Page Number: 133

Source: City of Literature Class

Jesus’ Son is a visionary chronicle of dreamers, addicts, and lost souls. These stories tell of spiraling grief and transcendence, of rock bottom and redemption, of getting lost and found and lost again. The raw beauty and careening energy of Denis Johnson’s prose has earned this book a place among the classics of twentieth-century American literature.

1 out of 5 stars


I have the theory that reading for class makes literally everything worse. But, that doesn’t change the fact that I found this book very lackluster.

After finding out I had to read this book for class by Monday, I just decided to read it all in one day because it’s extremely short, but I was very confused the whole time. Honestly, it felt like everyone knew something that I didn’t, but not in a charming and fun try-to-find-it-out sort of way.

This was a series of short stories, some of which were slightly correlated, that were about addicts. I have no idea why I had to read this for my class other than the fact that the author went to the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, but I did it anyway. I didn’t relate to any of the stories at all and that’s because I’ve never had to deal with addiction or anything remotely similar. I found that the stories didn’t make sense because they were so short. Some were less than 5 pages, but were just chilling and being part of this book.

I don’t have too many thoughts because I was mostly confused. I might add to this post after we discuss this, but probably not. There was NO correlation with this book being called “Jesus’ Son.” There was nothing about it at all, so I’m also confused by the title. The last story was creepy because it was about this guy that just creeped on this couple in the hopes of catching them having sex. Hmm. There’s something off about that. He was also obsessed with watching the woman get out of the shower and dry herself off and put her clothes on. I don’t understand.

A lot of people were gushing about how the writing was so poetic and beautiful, but I disagree wholeheartedly. I thought it felt choppy and I got annoyed while reading it because there was no cohesion with anything. I’m not saying to not read this book, but please don’t waste your time reading it.

Review: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic – Alison Bechdel


Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic – Alison Bechdel

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Title: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Author: Alison Bechdel

Release Date: June 8, 2006

Publisher: Mariner

Format: Paperback

Page Number: 234

Source: Bestie

A fresh and brilliantly told memoir from a cult favorite comic artist, marked by gothic twists, a family funeral home, sexual angst, and great books.

This breakout book by Alison Bechdel is a darkly funny family tale, pitch-perfectly illustrated with Bechdel’s sweetly gothic drawings. Like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, it’s a story exhilaratingly suited to graphic memoir form.

Meet Alison’s father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family’s Victorian home, a third-generation funeral home director, a high school English teacher, an icily distant parent, and a closeted homosexual who, as it turns out, is involved with his male students and a family babysitter. Through narrative that is alternately heartbreaking and fiercely funny, we are drawn into a daughter’s complex yearning for her father. And yet, apart from assigned stints dusting caskets at the family-owned “fun home,” as Alison and her brothers call it, the relationship achieves its most intimate expression through the shared code of books.

When Alison comes out as homosexual herself in late adolescence, the denouement is swift, graphic — and redemptive.

5 out of 5 stars


I was blown away by this comic/graphic memoir. I was really impressed and even though it was not what I was expecting, I’m so glad that I read it.

This memoir follows Alison who is struggling with gender identity and growing up in general. She lives in a broken household with her mother, two brothers, and father who has some unstated issues.

The way that this book was written was so interesting because it jumped back and forth during time which I’ve not experienced with a comic before. It wasn’t confusing at all and I was completely immersed the whole time. The basic plot points are all told within the first 50-100 pages, then it goes back through and gives you key important details. I think that it was a very interesting way of portraying it, but it worked really well.

At the beginning I hated her father. To me he just seemed like a creepy slightly pedophilic man who just wanted young guys, but after reading the whole story you find out that he struggled with his sexuality and his gender identity. Alison and her father end up making amends, but mostly through her recollection of memories of him. It was such an interesting take on a “normal” formatting. Both Alison and her father wanted to be the other gender, so they bonded over that later in life after she came out to her family. He told her some things that had happened in his past that made her relate to him more.

I don’t really understand why Alison’s parents were together in the first place because he’s been gay/transgender his whole life. I don’t know if her mother was in a similar situation, but it ended up “working out” in a sense at the end.

There was amazing representation of anxiety and OCD in this book that I really connected with. I used to have anxiety through elementary and middle school and that derived from my need for perfection. I am fairly certain that I dealt with OCD, but didn’t know what it was called and was never formally diagnosed with it. But I remember feeling so similarly to Alison during these parts of the book. I know what it’s like to need to do things a certain way in a certain order. Or making sure my objects in my room didn’t “feel” like one was preferred over the other. It sounds strange to people who haven’t dealt with it, but it made total and complete sense to me.

I would highly highly highly recommend this book to anyone, especially if you’ve dealt with similar situations as Alison or members of her family. Even if you’re not huge into comics or graphic memoirs, give it a try!!

Review: On the Merits of Unnaturalness (The Bone Season) – Samantha Shannon


On the Merits of Unnaturalness (The Bone Season) – Samantha Shannon

On the Merits of Unnaturalness

Title: On the Merits of Unnaturalness

Author: Samantha Shannon

Release Date: January 25, 2015

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Format: eBook

Page Number: 37

Source: TBR

Be aware, my good Reader, that this Pamphlet, no matter how controversial its content, must never fall into enemy Hands.

The most important piece of clairvoyant literature written in the twenty-first century, On the Merits of Unnaturalness is a pamphlet first published anonymously in 2031 by Jaxon Hall, the voyant who would later become the mime-lord known as the White Binder.

Hall was the first to index both known and supposed forms of Unnaturalness, resulting in the classification of the Seven Orders. This controversial piece of literature spread across the voyant underworld like a plague, revolutionising the syndicate but also creating discord in the form of brutal gang wars between the newly-divided categories, the scars of which can still be seen today.

3 out of 5 stars


This information was good to know, but it was totally not necessary to The Bone Season story. This is the pamphlet that Jaxon writes in the series, and the whole time I could ONLY think of how angry I am at him for other things… ugh.

I was kind of bored while reading this, but I do think it was valuable information. This novella just described the seven levels of clairvoyance in this world. There were some references to the 1980s which was funny because in the series it’s 2059, so to them the 1980s was forever ago. I just thought it was comical. There were little snippets that were funny, but I did think that Jaxon dwelled on his order the most. Obviously he knew the most information about that because he was writing from his own experience, but it made it a little suspicious.

There’s not much to say about this, but my piece of advice would be to not spend the $2 on this ebook.

Series:

The Pale Dreamer (The Bone Season #0.5)

The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1)

The Mime Order (The Bone Season #2)

The Song Rising (The Bone Season #3)

Review: The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2) – Renee Ahdieh


The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2) – Renee Ahdieh

The Rose & the Dagger (The Wrath & the Dawn, #2)

Title: The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2)

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Release Date: April 26, 2016

Publisher: Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 416

Source: TBR Pile

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

4 out of 5 stars


Yay to continuing with series!!

I picked this book out of my TBR jar in my most recent weekly reading vlog and listened to it on audio while reading it, and IT WAS SO GOOD. I was shaken and stirred at all the right parts.

This book follows Khalid and Shahrzad right after what happened at the end of The Wrath and the Dawn. Shahrzad is separated from Khalid, and she’s in a camp with Tariq, Irsa, her father, and some other guards and random people. She’s apparently more safe there than at the palace *tsk* and she is trying to find a way back to Khalid without getting caught/getting into more trouble than it’s worth. She bonds with her sister again after being gone for so long, and it GOES DOWN in this sequel.

Okay, so without spoilers, I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t give it 5 stars for the fact that I wish I would have had more character development from some of the side characters, Irsa didn’t deserve that, and the climax *although great* was so short.

SPOILERS:

Leave if you’ve not read this book.

 

 

So I was seriously shaken and stirred beyond belief when I found out about Despina. omg I was not ready for that. I knew something was a little fishy when she decided that she was going to leave with Shahrzad’s uncle, but what?! I was pleasantly surprised with Yasmine and how she was dealt with in the ending. I like that Khalid and Shahrzad made her the new Calipha person. yay for her. I always liked her character even though she was irritating. She was supposed to be, so she was well crafted.

I feel so so so bad for Irsa. I almost started crying. There were almost tears. I would have started crying if I wasn’t so sick, but alas. Rahim was one of my favorite side characters and I knew everything was way too good to be true. I had less than 100 pages left and everything was going super well and I just KNEW that something was up. I had the inkling that there was too much happiness.

The ending was everything that I wanted. Within the last 20 pages so much happened, and I was not ready for Shahrzad’s dad to fricking stab Khalid. Then save him… hmm. Okay. I mean, I thought he was going to die and I was about to be really sad but really impressed with Renee Ahdieh, but then he didn’t die and it was all fine and dandy. The ending was so cute with the little kid Caliph. Aww. S’cute.

 

 

END OF SPOILERS.

Overall, I would highly recommend this series! I really want to read the novellas so then I can get some more insight to these characters, so look out for those reviews, too!

Series:

The Moth and the Flame (The Wrath and the Dawn #0.25)

The Crown and the Arrow (The Wrath and the Dawn #0.5)

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1)

Review: Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri


Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri

Interpreter of Maladies

Title: Interpreter of Maladies

Author: Jhumpa Lahiri

Release Date: June 28, 1999

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Format: Paperback

Page Number: 198

Source: Boyfriend :)

Mr. Kapasi, the protagonist of Jhumpa Lahiri’s title story, would certainly have his work cut out for him if he were forced to interpret the maladies of all the characters in this eloquent debut collection. Take, for example, Shoba and Shukumar, the young couple in “A Temporary Matter” whose marriage is crumbling in the wake of a stillborn child. Or Miranda in “Sexy,” who is involved in a hopeless affair with a married man. But Mr. Kapasi has problems enough of his own; in addition to his regular job working as an interpreter for a doctor who does not speak his patients’ language, he also drives tourists to local sites of interest. His fare on this particular day is Mr. and Mrs. Das–first-generation Americans of Indian descent–and their children. During the course of the afternoon, Mr. Kapasi becomes enamored of Mrs. Das and then becomes her unwilling confidant when she reads too much into his profession. “I told you because of your talents,” she informs him after divulging a startling secret.

I’m tired of feeling so terrible all the time. Eight years, Mr. Kapasi, I’ve been in pain eight years. I was hoping you could help me feel better; say the right thing. Suggest some kind of remedy.

Of course, Mr. Kapasi has no cure for what ails Mrs. Das–or himself. Lahiri’s subtle, bittersweet ending is characteristic of the collection as a whole. Some of these nine tales are set in India, others in the United States, and most concern characters of Indian heritage. Yet the situations Lahiri’s people face, from unhappy marriages to civil war, transcend ethnicity. As the narrator of the last story, “The Third and Final Continent,” comments: “There are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept.” In that single line Jhumpa Lahiri sums up a universal experience, one that applies to all who have grown up, left home, fallen in or out of love, and, above all, experienced what it means to be a foreigner, even within one’s own family.

4 out of 5 stars


I really enjoyed this short story collection because Lahiri’s writing style is so beautifully eloquent. Pretty much ALL of the stories were super depressing, so I definitely need to read something happier and easier to read after this.

This anthology has 9 short stories, but my favorites were “Interpreter of Maladies” and “The Third and Final Continent.” “Interpreter of Maladies” is the namesake for this anthology, and is the most well-known of Lahiri’s works. I thought this had an interesting dynamic because the main character had these fantasies that were long and drawn out in a matter of seconds during the real-time of the story. It was very cool to read because it wasn’t something typical for a short story, in my opinion.

“The Third and Final Continent” was the final story, and I think this one will stick with me the most because it started out so tragic almost and was the only happy ending! Now, I’m all for being a realist and knowing the limits of life, but not everyone is sad all the time and has horrible things happen to them. I LOVE happy, or at least satisfying, endings to stories or books, so when everything is depressing it’s hard to read. I had to take breaks in between the stories instead of just reading straight through because I needed to give myself a little mental break in between everything that was happening.

You’ll notice that I wrote reviews for the first two short stories of this anthology, but didn’t write any for the others, and that is because I am not counting short stories towards my GoodReads goal anymore. I’m doing novellas, but not individual short stories. It was a whole internal debate, and so I went through and culled out the short stories that I’ve read this year, and this is now my 73rd book of the year. *go me*

ANYWAY. I liked that this was all about people of Indian descent because I’ve never really read anything from the perspective of Indian culture. It was a very diverse read to me! Overall I thought this was a beautiful book, but be warned that the stories are quite sad at some points.

Review: The Iowa Baseball Confederacy – W. P. Kinsella


The Iowa Baseball Confederacy – W. P. Kinsella

The Iowa Baseball Confederacy

Title: The Iowa Baseball Confederacy

Author: W. P. Kinsella

Release Date: January 1, 1986

Publisher: Mariner Books

Format: Paperback

Page Number: 310

Source: Class Required Reading

Bearing W.P. Kinsella’s trademark combination of “sweet-natured prose and a richly imagined world” (Philadelphia Inquirer), The Iowa Baseball Confederacy tells the story of Gideon Clark, a man on a quest. He is out to prove to the world that the indomitable Chicago Cubs traveled to Iowa in the summer of 1908 for an exhibition game against an amateur league, the Iowa Baseball Confederacy. But a simple game somehow turned into a titanic battle of more than two thousand innings, and Gideon Clark struggles to set the record straight on this infamous game that no one else believes ever happened.

1 out of 5 stars


I know what you’re thinking. Aubrey, you NEVER read books about sports. And you’re right, I really despise most sports books. I had to read this for my City of Literature class, and I really didn’t like it. There are spoilers in this, but you shouldn’t read it anyway.

I just finished The Iowa Baseball Confederacy and I think the most important part of the ending was Gideon coming to terms with his obsession with the Confederacy. Near the end he says that he’ll do anything to get Sunny back, and won’t let what happened to Sarah happen to Sunny. He goes and tries to find her by I-80 and wants to tell her that he’ll do anything for her, and then something happens. I’m a little confused about that part, honestly, but he did come to terms with his obsession. I think this showed some MAJOR character development throughout the story.

I didn’t really like this book and it was not what I was expecting at all. I didn’t think this would be magical realism, so I was definitely surprised when some magic started happening. Also, 40 days for a baseball game? That seems quite excessive to me.

My favorite character was Missy because she was so sweet, kind, and just happy all the time. I think that she was a positive influence on Gideon while he was going through his difficult times. I thought it was strange to put in the story that the Angel has sexual encounters with men and beasts. Hmm. I don’t know how I feel about that. It was such an unnecessary addition to the story.

Overall I thought this book was very below average, and was so boring. I’ve never watched a baseball game, but this made me want to watch one even less. The way that the baseball game was described literally took up 3/4 of the book, and it was so unnecessary. Man, I love required reading.