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Book Review: “The Handmaid’s Tale”

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Audible Studios, 2017
Literary Fiction
4/5 Stars

Trigger Warnings:

GoodRead Synopsis:

After a violent coup in the United States overthrows the Constitution and ushers in a new government regime, the Republic of Gilead imposes subservient roles on all women. Offred, now a Handmaid tasked with the singular role of procreation in the childless household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost everything, even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life for mere glimpses of her former freedom, and records her story for future listeners.

Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Book Reviews · Entertainment · Feminism · Lifestyle · Reading

Book Review: “Bringing Down the Duke”

TRIGGER WARNING: Thoughts of non-consensual sex

Includes an Affiliate Link.

Genre: Historical, Romance

Summary:

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess.

(From Penguin Random House)

If you’ve followed this blog for literally any amount of time (even if you just got here), you probably have come to realize that strong, gutsy women are kind of my jam, especially in books. So when I saw that this book included suffragists, who are probably the strongest and gutsiest women ever, I knew I had to read it.

Annabelle is indeed strong and gutsy. Raised in a poor home, she is accepted to Oxford University on scholarship (ugh, living my dream) from a suffragist group. She moves to London and lobbies for the cause, where she meets the rich, handsome, and duke in the name: Sebastian Montgomery.

And that is where I begin to have issue with the book: I didn’t… love Montgomery for the first half-ish of a book. I get that it’s a romance book, so possessive, wild men are kind of a staple, but dang. Montgomery’s redeeming qualities were really far and few between for me. At one point, when he’s lusting after Annabelle, he pretty much thinks, “Well… I could force her to have sex with me… but I’m a good man and good men don’t do that, even though a lot of men do…” And I just… sir, excuse me?? Maybe it’s just me, but good men (or good people in general) don’t even have that thought? I understand that at the time that the story takes place, it wasn’t as widely accepted that non-consensual sex is bad, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth and made it difficult to like him as a character.

I finally started to warm up to him when he bailed Annabelle and a few other suffragists out of jail. And honestly, it took him and Annabelle sleeping together (consensually, thank God.) for me to finally actually like him. It literally took over half the book and him being good at sex with Annabelle for me to finally really see the appeal.

One thing I really did enjoy was the supporting characters. Annabelle’s suffragists were fierce and unapologetic. Though they are ostracized by society for being unladylike, they don’t let that deter them for fighting for women’s rights. I especially loved Hattie, Annabelle’s lovable, rich friend who fears what would happen if her family discovers her involvement in the suffragist movement.

Along with strong supporting characters, the sex scenes were also steamy. A lot of times when I read sex scenes, I find myself wanting to roll my eyes (Okay, oftentimes I do physically roll my eyes.) or failing to really feel the connection between the lovers. That wasn’t a problem with this book. The connection between Montgomery and Annabelle was obvious, and even the pillow talk was enjoyable.

Even though I had a hard time getting into this book, I am looking forward to reading the books that follow it. I was looking at the synopses on GoodReads (add me on there if you have one!) and I was thrilled to see that the sequel is about Lucie, the leader of the group, and the anticipated third book will be about my main girl Hattie!

If you’d like to purchase this book for yourself, please consider purchasing from an independent bookstore, or if that isn’t possible for you, using my Amazon Affiliate link.

Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

body positivity · Book Reviews · Feminism · Reading

Book Review: “You Have the Right to Remain Fat”

As I’ve talked about in other blog posts, I am a fat woman. I have always been “chubby”, but now, as an adult, it’s clear. I am fat. I have always been fat. And recently, I’ve been introduced to fat acceptance and liberation, which, in a nutshell, are the philosophies that fat people have the right to exist and live their lives without feeling pressured to change their bodies in any way.

You Have the Right to Remain Fat is a collection of essays by Virgie Tovar in which she shares her experience as a fat child and woman, particularly as a fat BIPOC. Using personal anecdotes, with a healthy sprinkle of statistics and studies, Tovar explains her journey from hating her body to loving it. Yes, even while fat.

While I read this book (mainly in the bathtub, which I’ve decided is the best place to read this book), I was struck by how many of Tovar’s stories that I could relate to. From the backhanded compliments (such as “You have such a pretty face!”) to feeling pressure from family members to shrink our bodies to the connection you feel when finding a community of fat women, Tovar’s stories show the universal experiences of fat women everywhere.

I found this book in an Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size Facebook group, where it was recommended among several other books I hope to read in the future.

Reading this book brought me a lot of self esteem and appreciation for my fatness. I find myself saying things like, “I’m so cute!” while looking at my tummy in the mirror, and even bought a few new bikinis! This book should be required reading for every fat woman, and honestly, every person. I wish more people understood what it is like to exist in a fat body, because if that empathy could be found, maybe fatphobia would finally disappear forever.

Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.
body positivity · Feminism

Why I’ve Embraced the Word “Fat”.

Fat. The word is – no pun intended, but also, yes, definitely intended- heavy. It is almost always used as an insult, and never said as a compliment, or even just a neutral statement, unless, of course, you’re an adorable, chunky baby.

At least that’s how it was for me. When I was a little girl, my momma was fat. She would talk about her body in an unhappy way, an almost regretful way. She didn’t like her body, and I knew that. Although, I did. I loved how when I cuddled into her, she was soft. She felt welcoming, safe, secure. I never thought badly about her body. But fat was still a bad word.

Fat was what I was afraid of becoming as a child. I was always overweight, but I was active. I played soccer and softball and swam competitively throughout my childhood, so even though I was chubby, and I was definitely aware that my body was bigger than my friends’, I never really felt fat. But still I received unwanted comments about my body. I was known as the “smiley, chubby girl” by my favorite librarian, and my grandmother bought me a teenage diet book for my birthday one year.

I was surrounded by fat family members desperately trying to change their bodies. I have vivid memories of going to my grandma’s house and being disappointed to see she only had sugarfree candies in her candy dish. My parents and many members of my extended family also use, and as far as I can remember, always have used, artificial sweetener. In my mind as a child, it wasn’t a diet thing, but an adult thing. I remember being surprised when a friend’s mom drank regular soda instead of diet soda. I didn’t realize that diet foods weren’t just something used because you were… well… old. Diet foods were used as an antidote to existing or feared fatness.

Flash forward to now. I’m an adult, and my body looks just like my mother’s did when I was growing up. And sometimes I’m angry about that.

But then I remember the loving way I used to think about my momma’s body. How I loved her softness and hugs and cuddles. And so I try to extend that same love and appreciation to my own body.

In Pitch Perfect, the character Fat Amy introduces herself as just that. Fat Amy. When I saw it in theaters everyone laughed at it, because she is a funny character. But now as a fat woman, I see how profound it is.

Fat Amy says she refers to herself as Fat “so twig bitches like you don’t do it behind my back.”

By referring to herself as “fat”, she is taking away the word’s ability to hurt her. It is no longer an insult. I want to reclaim the word fat, the word I was once so afraid of being used against me. Now, when people try to make fun of me for being fat, I laugh. It isn’t new information. I am indeed fat.

By embracing and being open with my fatness, I am taking away the word’s power to hurt me. I am taking away fatphobic people’s power to hurt me. If I love and accept my body, my fat, beautiful body, just as it is, I am actively working against the fatphobia I saw and experienced in my childhood and throughout my life. I refuse to be afraid of my body and the way that it looks.

And so I say that I’m fat. But I’m also beautiful. And smart. I’m funny and friendly and optimistic and passionate. I will no longer see my fatness as a flaw, rather I see it as something that is beautiful, and a gift.

Book Reviews · Entertainment · Feminism · Lifestyle · Reading · Social Justice · Uncategorized

Book Review: “Persepolis”

When I first read Persepolis, a graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, I was a junior in college, sitting through a required core class. The class was Modernity in Literature, and I was taking a particular section because a few of my friends were in it, and also because I had the professor before. She was a hard grader, and I wasn’t even sure that she liked me, but I appreciated her perspective on non-Western literature.

Image from Amazon.com

Persepolis was the first graphic novel I really ever read. I kind of had always looked down on graphic novels and comics and anime, not for any real reason besides my own superiority complex. But when I read Persepolis, my opinion changed.

Persepolis opened my eyes to so much. Taking place in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, Persepolis introduced me to a time and place in history that I, as a privileged white women, knew virtually nothing about, intersectional feminism, and the depth and creativity that goes into graphic novels. It is an autobiographical work telling the story of the author’s childhood in Iran during a time of unrest and violence. I remember reading it and reading more than I had to, just because I was that captivated for the story. I told every one of my feminist friends, “You have to read this.” and held on to my copy long after finishing the class.

Image from TwoDollRadio.com

I finally decided to reread it in quarantine, and I was happy to find that it was just as compelling as it had been when it was assigned reading. It is a difficult read, but an important one. I had no knowledge of this time in history, or really about Iran in general, beyond America’s involvement in the 21st century, before reading the book, and it opened my eyes to the horrors the Iranian people experienced.

There is a second half to the story, which I still haven’t gotten my hands on, but plan on buying it or borrowing it from the library soon.

Overall Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.